MELBOURNE – Adrian Gard, the security consultant at the centre of the All Blacks bugging case, had his public mischief charge dismissed by a Sydney court on Friday.
Gard was accused of making a false statement to police about a listening device found in the All Blacks’ hotel meeting room before the August 2016 match against Australia in Sydney.
Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Jennifer Atkinson said she was unable to rule out that someone else could have planted the bug, local media reported.
Gard was found guilty of a second charge relating to carrying out a security operation without a licence.
A security consultant to the All Blacks for a decade, Gard previously worked with former US President Bill Clinton and a number of celebrities.
“I knew it was going to happen. Just waited for my day in court,” Gard, who pleaded not guilty, told local media outside the court, referring to the dismissal of the public mischief charge.
The matter, dubbed ‘bug-gate’ by media, caused much friction between the Australian and New Zealand Rugby unions when it was revealed last year.
The All Blacks management decided not to alert police for five days after the bug was found, waiting until the morning of the Test before instructing hotel staff to involve them.
“This has been a truly strange case,” New Zealand Rugby said in a statement.
“We accept the finding of the court, and consider the matter closed. We hope people move on from this issue.”
The verdict came a day before Australia play the All Blacks in this year’s Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on Saturday.
All Blacks skipper Kieran Read described Gard as a “good man”, “honest” and “loyal” in giving character evidence at the hearing on Friday, which caused him to be late to his ‘Captain’s Run’ media conference.