SINGAPORE - A private investigator was fined $4,500 on Friday (May 12) for using a data recovery software to illegally access a laptop computer belonging to his client's then-husband.
Wendell Dennis Lee Sing Ling committed the offence on Dec 18, 2012, when his client Nellie Tan Li Koon, 39, was undergoing divorce proceedings with plastic surgeon Leo Kah Woon, 42.
The court heard the couple, who have two daughters, tied the knot in 2005 but the marriage soured about seven years later.
Leo evicted Tan from their matrimonial home at Margoliouth Road near Stevens Road on Sept 26, 2012, after he suspected her of having an extra-marital affair with a man, Mr Ang Choo Pin, 38.
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
Tan started divorce proceedings against Leo on Oct 10 that year.
She got to know Lee, now 46, that month as she was referred to him by the law firm handling her divorce case. Court papers did not reveal the name of the firm.
While Leo was away on holiday in Hong Kong with their two daughters between Dec 16 and 20, 2012, Tan returned to her former home to retrieve some of her belongings.
She then spotted Leo's laptop computer on the dining table and switched it on.
She decided to take the computer with her when she saw documents on the desktop relating to the divorce proceedings.
She gave the laptop to Lee at around 4pm on Dec 18 and asked him to make copies of files and documents relevant to them.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) April Phang said Lee removed the hard disk of Leo's laptop and used his own computer to run a data recovery software on it.
After locating the documents which Tan might require, Lee saved them into a portable hard disk she had provided.
To cover her tracks, Tan went back to her former home to return the laptop.
She then used the information taken from Leo's computer in her affidavit dated March 27, 2013, in the Family Court in response to Leo's application for care and control of their daughters.
DPP Phang said the divorce was finalised on May 4, 2015.
On Feb 3 this year, Tan was fined $3,500 for abetting Lee to unlawfully access Leo's laptop.
Separately, 10 days later, Leo was fined $13,000 for installing a spyware program on his laptop to intercept data belonging to Tan and unlawfully accessing data in the Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) computer system.
He was working with SGH when he committed three offences, including accessing the hospital's computer system to search for information on Mr Ang.
Mr Ang subsequently lodged complaints with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and the police that Leo had abused the SGH system to obtain personal information, and made baseless allegations of adultery against him in an effort to destroy his marriage.
The SMC complaints committee concluded that no formal inquiry was necessary and issued a letter of advice to Leo.
For computer misuse, Lee could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.