SINGAPORE - A former senior civil servant, originally sentenced to 10 weeks' jail last year after he was found guilty of misappropriating two iPads, walked out of court a free man on Thursday (Oct 20) after he was acquitted of the charges.
Mr Jeganathan Ramasamy, 65, who was director of the technology department at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), had maintained that the two Apple tablets handed to him by IT vendor NCS in 2011 were personal purchases, for which he had yet to make payment.
He gave one to his daughter and sold the other to SCDF's then senior director of emergency services for $200. Each iPad 2 was worth $939.
But the prosecution, which brought two charges against him for criminal breach of trust, contended that the two iPads were meant to be used to test mobile apps that NCS was developing for SCDF.
In acquitting Mr Jeganathan on Thursday, Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon said there were "inconsistencies and gaps" in the evidence of both the prosecution and the defence. He said "ample doubt" had been raised in the case against Mr Jeganathan, making it unsafe for the conviction to stand.
The judicial commissioner noted that the two iPads did not come loaded with any apps, contrary to the prosecution's case that the devices were meant for testing purposes.
He also noted that it did not make sense for Mr Jeganathan to sell one iPad to a senior officer in the same organisation if he had obtained it through wrongful means.
The judicial commissioner pointed to text message exchanges with NCS' then group general manager, Mr Wong Soon Nam, in which Mr Jeganathan asked to pay for the devices on at least three occasions.
In a message after he received the devices, Mr Jeganathan said: "Tell me the amount I have to pay." Mr Wong replied that the iPad 2 "is meant for all the new mobile apps that we are rolling out for SCDF and for you to trial".
Shortly after this exchange, Mr Wong phoned Mr Jeganathan.
Mr Jeganathan testified that Mr Wong told him over the phone to try out the iPads first and they could talk about the price later. Mr Wong initially testified that he did not communicate further with Mr Jeganathan but when confronted with the call records, said he could not remember the contents of the call.
The judicial commissioner said text messages are a "fertile ground for miscommunication" and that the contents of the call can change the interpretation of the text message exchange.
Approached for comment after he was acquitted, Mr Jeganathan, who was defended by Mr Sanjiv Rajan, said he was "thankful" that "justice prevailed". He left SCDF in 2012.