Eng Tha
Digital Evidence Assists in Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial 08/04/2014
Many people around the world have been following the trial of Oscar Pistorius who is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Digital evidence extracted from the girlfriend’s mobile phone has provided intimate insights into the couple’s volatile relationship. The evidence revealed that Pistorius was prone to jealous tantrums. Other digital evidence presented to the court was that Pistorius had accessed pornographic content online on the evening of the murder.
The police mobile phone expert was able to extract 35,654 pages' worth of messages from Steenkamp's phone. The evidence was hailed as unprecedented in South African legal history.
However, the South African Police have been unable to access the data on Pistorius’ iPhone due to Pistorius claiming to having forgotten the password. The investigators have flown to the US to meet with Apple in order to try and gain access to the phone.
Without doubt, digital evidence will continue to play an important role in all types of investigations. Technology has become so integrated into people’s lives that the way people communicate with friends and business associates has changed. People are spending more time online, whether it is social media, online shopping or for business. People are now sharing more personal information online than ever before.
This often provides a forensic investigator with a golden opportunity to really get into the mind of someone who is under investigation, particularly relevant to Pistorius as the fact that he killed his girlfriend is uncontested and it’s the intent that investigators are trying to prove. You only have to think about the devices you use, what websites you visit, content of your SMS messages to close friends, what apps you install, your social media pages and your emails to see that someone with access to that data can quickly build an accurate profile. In addition, digital forensics provides the investigator with access to deleted data.
The Pistorius case provides a good example of how digital forensics can provide valuable additional evidence in an investigation. Digital evidence is still being underused here in Thailand but that is slowly changing. We are seeing an upward trend in the number of requests for forensic investigations. What is also encouraging is that many of the requests are coming from locally based companies of all sizes.
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