30 Aug 2013

CAA 'whistleblower' not guilty

6:13 am on 30 August 2013

A former Civil Aviation Authority safety investigator has been found not guilty over an email he forged that ended up before an inquest.

Peter Kirker told police that when he sent the email he saw himself as a whistleblower.

The email, purporting to be from an aviation expert, Frank Sharpe, was sent to the Feilding family, whose son was one of three men who died in a mid-air collision over Paraparaumu in 2008.

It suggested there were further matters that needed to be raised before the Coroner investigating the deaths.

Mr Kirker told police that during the inquest the authority hadn't revealed all the facts about safety risks in the accident.

District Court Judge Andrew Becroft entered not guilty verdicts on a total of three charges relating to the email, including two of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

While the judge found none of the charges had been proven beyond reasonable doubt, he did criticise Mr Kirker's actions.

"In my view what you did was misguided and ham-fisted but was amateurish. In your own words you were stupid and naive. However, I cannot say it was done with criminal intent to pervert the course of justice."

Judge Becroft said Mr Kirker had been unwavering in his explanation to the police.

After the judge delivered his decision, Mr Kirker said he was very relieved the trial was over and his only intention had been to get the facts out and assist the Feilding family.

Neither the police nor the Civil Aviation Authority would comment on the judge's decision.