Is New Zealand's former top military attache to the United States "absurdly unlucky" or was he "the bloke who put the camera in the toilet" at our embassy in Washington?

And was one of NZ's biggest and most important diplomatic buildings being run like a bumbling episode of Dad's Army?

The questions were posed this morning by Crown prosecutor Henry Steele and defence lawyer Ron Mansfield as the trial of Alfred (Fred) Keating nears its conclusion in the Auckland District Court.

The former Assistant Chief of Navy, who held the rank of commodore, is accused of planting a covert device in a unisex bathroom in the Washington DC building during July 2017.


He did so, Steele alleges, to film his colleagues using the toilet.

The 59-year-old Keating was the senior defence attache to the US at the time and one of the New Zealand military's highest-ranking officers.

During his closing address to the jury this morning, Steel said he'd spent last night contemplating what he might say.

He Googled coincidence and read the definition.

"A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection," he said.

But, the prosecutor added, in Keating's case there were too many links for it to be a simple coincidence.

Mansfield, however, held a different view.

He told the jury the investigation which followed the discovery of the hidden camera on July 27 was "inept and incomplete".


Because of the "significant holes and deficiencies" there were "no reliable links" to conclude who had planted the camera, Mansfield said.

Those links - which Steele relies on - include the internet activity on the former Devonport Naval Base commander's computer.

Under the user name "fredk" inquiries were made for BrickHouse Security, the camera's brand name.

The Google searches - at about midnight Washington time and just two days before the device was found in the bathroom - included "Brickhouse camscura modes" and "Brickhouse camscura switch positions".

The laptop was also used to visit BrickHouse Security web pages eight times between March 25, 2017, and July 25, while a further search on Amazon via the search engine Bing for BrickHouse Security was made on that day.

Meanwhile, software from BrickHouse Security was installed on Keating's computer on July 24, 2017, but later uninstalled at 6.47pm on the day the device was found.

"In this case we know, we know that Mr Keating's computer, using the user name fredk, has at some point been connected to a BrickHouse security device," Steele said.

"We also know through forensic interrogation of his computer that at some point that computer has accessed files highly likely to have originated from a BrickHouse Security device."

Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied
Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied

However, the court has heard there is no evidence to suggest Keating ever bought a hidden camera.

"If you're going to purchase a covert camera you might do it covertly," Steele proposed.

"Assuming of course Mr Keating didn't just walk into a shop and pay with cash."

Security camera footage, Steele continued, also showed a man matching Keating's description walking in the direction of the level three toilet.

He said the man wearing black pants and a white short-sleeved shirt also used a swipe card which was matched to Keating.

Later when the hidden camera's first video was recovered by digital forensics officers it revealed a person wearing blue latex gloves and wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

They were positioning the device inside the bathroom's radiator on July 27.

Mansfield yesterday accused embassy staffer and Keating's driver Mike Waller of being the culprit who placed the camera.

Waller had in 2014 bought a camera which was identical to that found in the bathroom in an effort to catch a petty cash thief at the embassy, he said.

The amateur photographer, who has taken pictures of former United States President Barack Obama, denied the notion he was the guilty man.

A second video recovered from the bathroom camera, just a minute after the first, also shows a man wearing a black Fitbit watch on the left wrist using the toilet.

Steele said this was Keating - but the prosecutor remained unsure why the attache might decide to use the bathroom just moments after allegedly planting a covert camera.

"Maybe it's all part of the thrill?" Steele said.

"Maybe it was to set himself up as the first victim ... Maybe he just needed to use the toilet?"

When police searched Keating's New Zealand home in November 2017 detectives found an identical black Fitbit. No indecent images, however, were recovered when police seized and examined electronics belonging to Keating.

But earlier on September 17 the computer software CCleaner was searched, downloaded and installed on Keating's laptop, the court heard.

CCleaner is described online as a program which can delete temporary or unwanted files on a computer.

Alfred Keating, formerly one of the Royal New Zealand Navy's top officers, is on trial in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Michael Craig
Alfred Keating, formerly one of the Royal New Zealand Navy's top officers, is on trial in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Michael Craig

And then there was the DNA, Steele said.

An "ultra-sensitive" test of the device revealed a male DNA profile matching Keating's was found on the memory card.

The DNA was "10,000 million times more likely" to have come from Keating than another person with the same profile, the court heard from a DNA expert.

The former top naval officer, Steele concluded, was either "absurdly unlucky" or "Commodore Alfred Keating, defence attache to the United States, is the bloke who put the camera in the toilet".

He said the effect of the evidence against Keating was cumulative and elevated suspicion to proof beyond reasonable doubt.

"What does your common sense tell you?" Steele asked the jury.

"His DNA is on the SD card because it is his camera and he is the one who put it in that bathroom."

Mansfield, however, said the DNA evidence was contaminated.

The camera had been "picked up and carted through to the ambassador's office" by several people without gloves before it was eventually sent to New Zealand for forensic testing, he said.

"That level of incompetence sadly wouldn't even have been shown in Dad's Army.

"No one should be handling that item without gloves."

Mansfield said: "The risk for the embassy may be low, thank goodness, but the risk of injustice for Mr Keating is high."

Keating's more than 40-year Defence Force career has come to an end as a result of the allegations after he resigned just two days after he pleaded not guilty last March.

He had also served as New Zealand's naval attache and senior technical officer for the navy to the US from July 2003 until December 2006.

Judge Robert Ronayne will deliver his summation of the case tomorrow.