Cop jailed for unauthorised access to police computer system

SINGAPORE - After a traffic accident with a motorcyclist, a police senior staff sergeant accessed a police computer system to retrieve the biker's report without authorisation.

Yap How Tat also took photographs of the report.

However, when he was seen doing it, the 35-year-old deleted the photos.

Yap, who was with the Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), was jailed for four weeks on Tuesday (Jan 8).

He had pleaded guilty to one count each of accessing a computer without authorisation, and destroying documents in order to prevent them from being used as evidence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said the accident happened along 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.

The motorcyclist, 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 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 attended to him, realised that he could not print out the photographs of the accident scene that Yap had e-mailed over.

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

When he was done, Sergeant Lin moved the monitor of the computer terminal closer to Yap for him to verify the report.

However, Yap claimed that he was unable to see it and insisted on using the computer terminal.

Sergeant Lin allowed Yap, his senior in rank, to have access to the computer but continued to monitor him. But Yap used it to access the motorcyclist's report without authorisation and snapped some photos of it with his mobile phone.

When Sergeant 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 of jail, stressing that this case involved a "significant abuse of authority".

For accessing the computer system without authorisation, Yap could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.