10 Apr 2019

DNA '10,000 million times' more likely to be official's, court hears

7:28 pm on 10 April 2019

The jury in the trial of New Zealand's former top Defence Force Attache has heard compelling scientific evidence this afternoon.

Alfred Keating

Alfred Keating Photo: Facebook / New Zealand Embassy - Washington, D.C.

Alfred Harold Keating, 59, is on trial in the Auckland District Court charged with attempting to make an intimate visual recording.

He is accused of planting a covert camera in a unisex toilet in the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC.

The device was found by embassy staff on 27 July 2017, sparking a police investigation and forensic testing in New Zealand.

Environmental Science and Research (ESR) scientist Susan Vintiner tested DNA swabs taken from the covert camera and its internal memory card.

This afternoon she told the jury ultra-sensitive testing, used to test small amounts of DNA, returned mixed results for the memory card.

A DNA profile, coined 'Male A' made up the majority of the DNA identified and a trace amount of a second profile was also found, though it was too small to get results.

Ms Vintiner said the 'Male A' profile was compared to persons of interest in the case and it "corresponded" to that of Mr Keating.

Statistical analysis confirmed "extremely strong scientific support" that the DNA found on the SD card was Mr Keating's, she said.

"From the analysis it was determined that the likelihood of obtaining these DNA profiling results was at least 10,000 million times more likely that the majority of the DNA in the sample originated from Mr Keating rather than someone else, unrelated to him, chosen at random from the New Zealand population."

Ms Vintiner said the figure was the strongest result that could be obtained in the field of DNA analysis.

It's the Crown's case that Mr Keating planted the motion-activated camera, which retails online at about $70, in the bottom of the bathroom heater, wearing a pair of blue latex gloves.

The camera was positioned directly in front of the toilet but fell down later the same day meaning much of the footage recovered on the memory card was of people's feet.

This morning Richard Kay, who worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), told the court the discovery was "shocking".

"It was such a serious matter and such a shocking discovery it was felt the police had the best experience and skill to handle it."

The jury earlier heard Mr Keating, a former commodore in the New Zealand Navy, was on a specialised visa at the time of the discovery.

This meant he was immune from prosecution in the United States but he was still able to be prosecuted by the New Zealand Police.

Mr Keating has strenuously denied the allegations; his lawyer Ron Mansfield comparing the Crown's case to a celebrity magazine in a waiting room with stories that did not live up to its racy headlines.

Mr Mansfield is expectd to cross-examinme Ms Vintiner on her evidence tomorrow morning.