A 22-year-old registrar stole a client's passport because she had no ID and wanted to go partying.
Natasha Tomlinson, 22, appeared before Judge Bill Hastings in the Wellington District Court in May for an application for a discharge without conviction.
Court records reveal she was convicted and discharged after pleading guilty to two charges, dishonestly taking a passport to obtain a service and dishonestly using a passport with intent to obtain a service.
She was employed at the Queenstown District Court as a deputy registrar in August last year and her duties included safe custody of passports and other documents.
On November 30, while sorting through passports for a customer, she found one she thought bore a resemblance to her appearance.
She had no ID and believed she would need some while out in Queenstown that night, so she stole the passport from the safe and put it in her handbag.
At 1am the next day, she was drunk in Ballarat St and tried to get into Winnies in The Mall when a doorman asked for ID.
She produced the stolen passport, handed it over but the bouncer questioned its validity, kept the passport and handed it to police.
In explanation, she said she was "only borrowing" the passport and intended to return it to work.
An application for a discharge was submitted on the grounds conviction would adversely affect travel, study and employment.
Judge Hastings said Tomlinson told the Queenstown District Court what happened and resigned the following Monday, wrote a letter of apology and was remorseful.
He accepted taking the passport was spontaneous but once it was stolen it was clear she intended to use it during the weekend and this could not be characterised as spontaneous.
It was not a case of using false ID to get into licensed premises but a case of using someone else's identity. This was a breach of trust against the owner of the passport "who surrendered the passport in good faith to a servant of the Crown" and a breach of public trust.
"I do not need to tell you, but I will, that the New Zealand public is entitled to expect that public servants will carry out their functions with integrity and not compromise the hard-earned reputation and, I should say, internationally recognised reputation, of everyone who works in the public service. Your actions have compromised that reputation."
Her lawyer submitted a conviction would impact on study of adventure tourism management and overseas travel, especially to Canada.
Judge Hastings rejected the argument and declined an application for a discharge without conviction.
"I have identified a significant public interest consideration in this case, which is the need to maintain public trust in the public service and confidence that the actions of those employed in the public service will be of the highest standard."
- The Southland Times