Police and Biosecurity officers including a specialist snake handler swooped on a Wellington apartment in October after a tipoff about a pregnant snake.
It turned out to be a wild snake chase despite a detailed tipoff that included which apartment it was in, that it had bred and that it was 1.5 metres long.
Christopher Raymond Wills, 45, today pleaded guilty to giving false or misleading information to the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The case presented Wellington District Court judge Peter Hobbs with an unusual situation with offenders normally denying any animal had existed.
Wills, who had used a false name, had said he had seen the snake at the apartment while he was there with a prostitute.
Three police officers, two MPI officers, an investigator, a snake handler and a forensic analyst were involved in the search but no snake was found in the apartment.
Judge Hobbs said there was no explanation from Wills about the offending.
Significant resources had been used to deal with what could have been a serious threat to New Zealand's biosecurity.
Snakes are not allowed in New Zealand even in zoos.
Judge Hobbs sentenced Wills to 60 hours' community work.
Wills' lawyer, Louise Brown, said Wills had a new job and was now clean of drugs although he had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted to get the charge over and done with.
- The Dominion Post