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Ex-SFO chief prosecutor Anita Killeen (pictured) has been discharged without conviction after her lawyer successfully argued her offending was the result of a side effect from medication.
Ms Killeen (35) forged an email from the SFO’s former chief executive Adam Feeley and sent it to the National Business Review in November 2011 in an attempt to smear him.
At a hearing at the Auckland District Court today, Ms Killeen pleaded guilty through Queen’s Counsel, Paul Davison, to two charges of forgery and using a forged document.
She sat calmly next to Mr Davison for the duration of today’s hearing.
Mr Davison told the court her offending was the result of medication she was on at the time, which caused her to act irrationally and out of character.
He says medical experts found that Ms Killeen had recently increased her dose of the medication which was a likely explanation of her behaviour.
They found evidence that in rare cases, irrational behaviour was a side effect of this particular medication.
“Ms Killeen found in this material at least an explanation to what was otherwise inexplicable to her and explained how she came to become involved in direct contrast to her otherwise high standards of professional and personal behaviour and integrity.
“It is clear but for these effects that Ms Killeen would not have acted in this way,” Mr Davison says.
He says the medical side effects substantially mitigate her offending, but she has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty.
“Although the charges themselves are serious, in her case her offending must be seen at the very lowest level because of her compromised mental state.”
He says the incident was unusual and out of character, and Ms Killeen should be allowed to continue to work in the legal profession, which would not be possible if she were convicted.
“It would be an enormous tragedy if someone such as Ms Killeen, who suffered the involuntary effects of prescription medication, were to have the rest of her life blighted by being characterised as a criminal.”
The Crown did not oppose the discharge without conviction.
In giving the reasons for her decision, Judge Mary-Beth Sharp accepted Ms Killeen still has no recollection of forging the email or forwarding it to the press.
“Ms Killeen’s case is, indeed, an exceptional one. She would not have done what she did had she not been under the very severe effects of the drug that was prescribed for her for a perfectly proper purpose.
“Ms Killeen’s culpability in this case is as low as it could possibly be.”