All Blacks 'bug' sold to spy stores

The Rugby Championship
by AAP

The bugging device found in a chair in the All Blacks' Sydney hotel is sold at a chain of spy stores, a court has heard.

Technician Mark Muratore told Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday the FM transmitter powered by a nine-volt battery was sold at the Oz Spy chain of stores and on eBay.

Mr Muratore was giving evidence at a hearing involving security guard Adrian Gard who has denied making up claims he found the bug secreted in a chair in the All Blacks' meeting room at the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay in August 2016.

Mr Gard has pleaded not guilty to making a false representation resulting in a police investigation into the bug.

Adrian Gard has pleaded guilty to the charges. Photo: AFPMr Muratore told the court about 80 of the FM transmitter devices, known as the RBFM600, were sold each year on eBay and at Oz Spy for $120 each.

He said the device, which had an antenna and microphone, had a range of about 500 metres if the line of sight was unobstructed by buildings or walls.

Mr Muratore said the device only transmitted sounds it picked up on an FM radio frequency and did not record.

The next witness called was upholsterer Michael Hughes who was questioned about the stitching on the chair's cushion.

Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson said one of the crucial issues in the case was whether the device had allegedly been placed inside the chair and reupholstered.

Mr Hughes was filmed by police taking the stitching apart from a similar hotel conference chair and he said it would have taken a clever person to open up the cushion, place the device inside and then reupholster the cushion to make it look like it had not been interfered with.

He examined the cushion where the device was allegedly found by Mr Gard and said it did not appear to have been tampered with, just cut.

All Blacks team manager Darren Shand told the court last week Mr Gard called him up to his room at about 5pm on August 15, 2016, and showed him two chairs which he claimed had given off abnormal readings during a bug sweep in the team's meeting room.

Mr Shand said the chair had been cut open and he could see what looked like a listening device inside.

The hearing resumes on Thursday.