Today’s Herald editorial writes:
Any case of identity theft involves calculated dishonesty. By any yardstick, Mr Garrett was fortunate to be discharged without conviction and to be granted name suppression.
So why did Garrett escape without a conviction?
It’s certainly not the normal outcome in these cases. The Dompost summarised half a dozen other cases yesterday:
2006: Frank Macskasy, 48, of Upper Hutt, is fined $2000 for forgery after using the name and details of a dead baby to get a passport. He said he had wanted to try The Day of the Jackal scam.
2006: Porirua man Dacey Jon Cameron is jailed for two years after attempting to obtain a passport in the name of a dead baby. Cameron changed his name by deed poll in 2004 to that of an infant who died almost four decades before and applied for a passport soon after.
2006: Peter Fulcher, a former kingpin in the Mr Asia drug syndicate, escapes a jail term despite admitting stealing the identity of a five-year-old who died in 1945, to obtain a passport.
2006: Rotorua man Christopher Mark Grose, 36, is fined $10,000 after stealing the identity of a dead baby to obtain a passport.
2005: William Kevin Roach, 49, a United States citizen, is jailed after admitting forgery charges. Also inspired by The Day of the Jackal, he assumed the identity of a baby after visiting a Tauranga cemetery.
2000: Jo-Anne Mary Cole, 43, is sentenced to 4 1/2 years’ jail after being convicted of fraud and passport offences. Cole also used the Forsyth techniques.
So why didn’t Garrett even get a conviction for the same offence others were being sentenced to jail for at the same time?
One part of the answer is that Garrett lied to the Court by telling it that he didn’t have any previous convictions (I’m no legal export but isn’t that perjury?).
Another reason is that he claims never to have used the passport (if you believe that…).
Nonetheless, this was a calculated act that damaged the integrity of our passport system and could have been used for major fraud, which distressed the family of the dead child hugely. And Garrett lied to the Police when confronted. (This guy sure lies a lot, eh?)
The more fundamental reason why Garrett got the soft treatment is exposed in the court records. If Garrett had been convicted he may well have been disbarred – lawyers don’t generally accept having (convicted) criminals in their midst. So, the judge went easy on a fellow lawyer to save his job and reputation.
Being part of the old boys’ club sure has its perks.
[Update: Garrett quits ACT]