Auckland, Nov 4 NZPA - Disgraced former ACT MP David Garrett did not reveal a previous conviction for assault when he appeared in court in 2005 for stealing a dead baby's passport, court documents confirmed today.
ACT's former law and order spokesman was discharged without conviction after it was revealed he stole the document 21 years earlier by using a scheme he read about in the best-selling novel The Day of the Jackal.
His affidavit to the court in 2005 was one of the documents released to media today.
In in, Mr Garrett described his actions as "simply a youthful and foolish mistake".
He failed to mention that he had been convicted of assault after a brawl while living in Tonga 2002.
"Since being admitted (as a lawyer) in 1992 I have committed no criminal offence, nor any disciplinary proceedings brought against me either in New Zealand or Tonga. The worst I could be accused of is incurring some parking and speeding fines," he said.
"There is certainly no chance of my appearing before the court again as the defendant."
This was reiterated by his lawyer, Gary Gotlieb, who told the court his client had no previous convictions "of any kind".
He called for a discharge without conviction stating to convict Mr Garrett would have a disproportionately severe impact on his professional and personal life.
Prominent proponent of harsher-sentences Garth McVicar, of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, also gave Mr Garrett his support in court, citing the "huge help" he had been to his organisation.
"David may have made a mistake in his past life but we have no hesitation in endorsing and vouching for the David Garrett we know today," he said
The judge, Keith de Ridder, granted the discharge without conviction, noting that Mr Garrett appeared to have turned his life around, that the offending was over 20 years earlier and that he had destroyed the passport without having used it.
"You obtained this passport in a way that has hurt the family and in a way which required much planning.
"I think this is more than just trivial but the time that has elapsed and the circumstances that have arisen since lowers that down the scale," he said.
Also released to the media today were letters of support from barrister and solicitor Peter O'Brien, lawyer Craig Stevenson and the former Solomon Islands Government's director of the public prosecutions department John Cauchi.
Mr Cauchi asked that Mr Garrett be "treated leniently".
"Twenty open years is a long time and people can change totally from being on the fringes to holding responsible positions in the community."
Mr Garrett resigned from Parliament in September after the case came to light through the media.
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