A former police officer has been sentenced to community work for illegally accessing the national intelligence police system to prey on women he was sexually attracted to.
Jeremy Ata Malifa, 34, was sentenced this morning in the Auckland District Court to 400 hours of community work, 12 months' supervision, six months' community detention and ordered to pay $200 to each of his victims.
Outside court Malifa, who is separated from his wife and has young children, told media he was sorry for his offending and now wished to "rebuild my life".
"Obviously, I've separated from my wife, but I've still got three young kids so I'm happy not to be in jail," he said.
There was some confusion as the hearing began because Malifa initially failed to show for his sentencing. When the officer in charge of the case rang the former constable, Malifa said he was on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
He arrived about 20 minutes late, breathing heavily and sat in the corner of the courtroom with his head in his hands.
Malifa pleaded guilty on May 8 to 21 counts of accessing the national intelligence application system (NIA) to gather personal information about women he fancied.
The ex-cop, who was a volleyball star for the New Zealand junior team, had been using the database for dishonest purposes over five years from 2010.
He was using the information he'd acquired, at times on his police-issued iPhone, to contact women he found attractive, and in some instances engaged in a sexual relationship with them, court documents released to the Herald read.
Malifa accessed the information of 21 women, intending to start a relationship with them all.
Court documents show the victims were mostly women the constable had dealings with his police work or during routine traffic stops.
However, one of the victims was the daughter of a man he'd searched via the NIA.
Malifa also used two other aliases when texting women.
Judge Heemi Taumaunu said it was important to send a message to other officers who could access to the NIA.
He said Malifa's offending was "predatory, calculating, manipulating, and for some of these victims scary and abusive".
Malifa stood in the dock throughout most of the sentencing with his hands together and his head bowed.
As the sentencing continued he sat with a solemn look on his face and later broke down in tears.
A letter from Malifa's employer was also submitted to the court in an effort to allow him to continue work and support his wife and children. Malifa now works in construction.
At a pre-sentence indication hearing, Judge Taumaunu said the mitigating factors relating to Malifa's offending were "nil".
"I cannot see any and do not intend to take any into account," he said in court documents obtained by the Herald.
"Your offending in this way is absolutely unacceptable. It was dishonest. Not only was it dishonest, you were manipulating victims who were already vulnerable as a result of your contact with them and you were taking advantage of them.
"You were effectively conducting these enquires in a predatory manner and your conduct was abusive towards these female victims."
The NIA system is a database for police to store details relating to people, vehicles, locations, phones numbers and offences.
The charges resulted from a long-running investigation into Malifa's conduct during his time as a police officer.
Outside the courtroom an emotional Malifa told the Herald he was sorry for the hurt and harm he'd caused his victims, and apologised for the shame he'd brought on the police force.
Auckland City District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said police wished to acknowledge the victims in the case.
"We thank them for their willingness to assist our investigation, and we apologise to them on behalf of NZ police."
In November 2015, police received information that Malifa had approached a woman "via inappropriate means" and an internal investigation was launched, she said.
"Further information was obtained and a criminal investigation was launched that continued for many months."
Malifa resigned from the police in December, 2015.
"Police do not believe any other staff were involved or complicit in his offending," Malthus said.
"The use of the police database is strictly controlled and all police staff are aware that it is only to be used for the purposes of carrying out policing duties."
Police now have systems in place to control and manage user access to police sensitive information.
Malthus said Malifa's offending was wholly distressing for the victims, undermining the efforts of the thousands of New Zealand officers, who carry out their duties every day, with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.