Guilty verdicts for Taito Phillip Field

Taito Phillip Field's trial began in April. File photo / Greg Bowker
Taito Phillip Field's trial began in April. File photo / Greg Bowker

A High Court jury has today found former MP Taito Phillip Field guilty of 26 of 35 criminal charges.

The jury of six women and four men reached their verdicts just before 4pm after deliberating since 12.35pm on Thursday, although they were sent home for the weekend.

The verdicts came following a trial at the High Court in Auckland which lasted more than 14 weeks.

Field, former Labour MP for Mangere, was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP after the Crown said he had Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice. The charges related to his evidence to an inquiry into the work on his homes.

Field was remanded on bail to be sentenced on October 6.

Justice Rodney Hansen paid tribute to the "expert" way in which the jury delivered its verdicts.

"Those most directly affected by the verdicts could never complain they had not had a fair hearing," he said.

It had been a "demanding" and "gruelling" trial because of its length, sheer volume of information to absorb and pressure from the high public interest in the trial.

"You've all had to endure major disruption to your personal lives, whilst discharging one of the most important duties as citizens," Justice Hansen said.

All the jury members were excused from being called for a jury trial for the next five years.

Outside court, crown prosecutor Simon Moore said the jury had delivered "utterly explicable" verdicts in the circumstances.

"This has been a really important case, and bribery and corruption strikes very much at the heart of who we are as a people."

The trial had taken up the best part of four months, with about 4000 pages of evidence, he said.

Defence lawyer Paul Davison QC said he and his client were very disappointed with the verdicts.

"It's been a very long and difficult trial. It's always difficult when the outcome was not the outcome we've been working so hard to achieve."

Mr Davison said it was clear the jury had taken careful consideration, and added it was too premature to discuss a possible appeal.

Detective Superintendent Malcolm Burgess, who headed the police investigation into Field's affairs, said a significant factor in the convictions was the evidence of some of the key witnesses who were prepared to come forward and give their evidence.

"For some of them, giving evidence was an extraordinarily harrowing experience and I am grateful these witnesses had the courage to stand up and be counted."

Mr Burgess also paid tribute to the work of the police inquiry team who had been involved in the investigation for the best part of three years.

"This has taken a significant chunk out of their lives and the result is testament to their commitment, expertise and professionalism."

Police accepted the jury's decision to acquit on the other charges, Mr Burgess said.

"It seems clear the jury carefully considered all the evidence and that is all we can ask."

Police had no comment regarding a possible sentence.

Field's step-daughter, Jackie Ahtong, said she was sad and shocked by the verdict, but refused to comment any further.

- NZPA

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