Prison officer fined $10,000 for unauthorised searches for information about ex-inmate

Rajeswaran Jayaram 27, admitted to two of six charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act by retrieving the electronic case profile of the former inmate.
Rajeswaran Jayaram 27, admitted to two of six charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act by retrieving the electronic case profile of the former inmate.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A prison officer accused of abusing his access privileges to look up confidential data about a former inmate linked to his former girlfriend was fined $10,000 by a court on Friday (Oct 9).

Rajeswaran Jayaram 27, admitted to two of six charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act by retrieving the electronic case profile of the former inmate. He was fined the maximum $5,000 on each charge, for accessing data from the Prison Operations and Rehabilitation System (Ports) in November 2013.

Ports is a Changi Prison inmate case management system containing details such as the inmate's name, identity card number, photograph, conviction history, tattoo details and discipline record.

As a prison officer, Rajeswaran, then a staff sergeant, knew he was only authorised to access Ports system for official work-related purposes. He has been suspended from work since February this year.

A district court heard that he used to be in a romantic relationship with Ms Benazir Begum, 26. They had a child out of wedlock. But their relationship soured due to differences between them and they were engaged in a fight for custody over their child in the Family Court.

On Dec 18, 2013, Rajeswaran's lawyer wrote to the Family Court stating that a man who is allegedly in a relationship with Ms Benazir, Mr Rajamanikem Sivalingam, 32, "has been convicted for rioting and has served sentence".

The lawyer went on to say that it would not be in the interest of the child, an infant, if Ms Benazir was in the company of Mr Rajamanikem, who is married. Mr Rajamanikem and his wife are undergoing divorce proceedings.

Suspecting that Rajeswaran had abused his access privileges as a prison officer to find out confidential information about Mr Rajamanikem's criminal records, Ms Benazir and Mr Rajamanikem complained to the authorities in July last year.

Investigations showed that Rajeswaran had gained unauthorised access to his Ports account on various occasions, and had made several unauthorised searches for Mr Rajamanikem's personal details.

But in his defence, Rajeswaran claims that he had been receiving multiple threatening phone calls from unknown callers, threatening harm to him. Suspecting that the calls were made by Mr Rajamanikem and his friends, he searched the Ports system to see the man's photo out of fear for his own safety and did not access it to get information for his custody proceedings, as alleged by Ms Benazir.

Further investigations into the audit logs of Mr Rajamanikem's conviction history showed that the module had not been accessed, corroborating Rajeswaran's defence that he had only accessed Ports to view Mr Rajamanikem's photo.

The maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and two years' jail.