Cop who made unauthorised access to computer jailed

After a traffic accident with a motorcyclist, a police senior staff sergeant made an unauthorised access to the police computer system to retrieve the biker's report.

Yap How Tat also took photographs of the report.

But when he was seen doing this, the 35-year-old deleted the photos.

Yap, who was with the Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), was jailed for four weeks yesterday.

He had pleaded guilty to one count each of making an unauthorised access to a computer, and destroying documents in order to prevent their production as evidence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said the accident took place in Yishun Avenue 8 at around 4am on April 16, 2017.

It was not mentioned in court documents if Yap was on duty at the time of the accident.

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  • Jail term in weeks for Yap How Tat.

The biker, whose details were not revealed in court documents, was sent to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

He made a road traffic accident report about four hours later.

At around 3.30am on April 17, Yap turned up at the Bukit Panjang NPC to lodge a road traffic accident report. He produced his warrant card and identified himself as a police senior staff sergeant.

The court heard that about 40 minutes later, Sergeant Quek Jun Cai, who was attending to him, realised he could not print the photographs of the accident scene that Yap had e-mailed over.

Sgt Quek, 28, had his colleague - 24-year-old Sgt Joel Lin Weiliang - help finalise the report while he left the area to print the photos.

When he was done, Sgt Lin moved the monitor of the computer terminal closer to Yap for him to read and verify the report. However, Yap claimed that he was unable to see it and insisted on using the computer terminal.

Sgt Lin allowed Yap, his senior in rank, to have access to the computer while continuing to monitor him. But Yap used it to access the biker's report without authority and snapped photos of it with his mobile phone.

When Sgt Lin caught him doing this, he immediately alerted his team leader, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jasper Chua Qi Long, 31.

ASP Chua confronted Yap and asked him to hand over his mobile phone.

The senior staff sergeant did as he was told, but not before deleting the photos.

DPP Thiagesh urged District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt to sentence Yap to between four and six weeks' jail, stressing that this case involved a "significant abuse of authority".

For making an unauthorised access to the computer system, Yap could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Cop who made unauthorised access to computer jailed'. Print Edition | Subscribe