Framed for Arson – The Police Interview
After my arrest for Arson on 17 April 2012, I was taken to Thames Police Station. I spoke to lawyer Andrew Hooker who advised me to say nothing but I explained to him that I really wanted to hear how they were connecting me to the fire when I had been almost 400 Km away at the time. He accepted that logic and I agreed to the interview.
Most of it was boring, all about circumstantial reasons for me to set the fire, all of the points in my opinion would apply to almost everybody in the circumstances and none had any evidence to support the accusation.
Then we started to talk about hacking, I was utterly bemused here, I knew little about hacking and Dawson was telling me that they had found evidence of me hacking the printer on the hard drive. I listened carefully, asked a few questions and it was all to do with me making enquiries in the internet search engines about printer cart chips, the little integrated circuits that printer manufacturers build into ink cartridges in an attempt to lock buyers into only using ink cartridges they manufacture. I had bought a new printer and prior to purchase made sure I could use third party cartridges that cost around 10% of the manufacturers ones before deciding which printer I should buy. It clearly had nothing to do with hacking!
Then I was told they had found hacking tools on the drive, complex editing software and that this convinced them that I had hacked the printer. I had never heard such rubbish in my life, I looked at Dawson who really didn’t understand what he was saying either, he was just referring to one of the reports, a Computer Forensics Report written by Jorgensen, you can see him referring to it on the image from the video here, it is very distinctive, with an image of three hard drives on the cover. None of this made any sense and I couldn’t see the connection between all this and how a fire could be started.
I was shown a sheet of data, labelled ‘Significant file activity on home computer on Date of Fire – 9 September 2011’ I show it here, you will see a list of times with column labelled Affected File but the contents of that column vary from files, program descriptors, directory names and just letters.
The next two columns, Type of Activity and Notes were Jorgensen’s interpretation of the particular file activity, it is obvious that the notes do not make sense, for example there are ‘.eml’ email files listed at 8 different times through the day, there are different explanations of these files being active for the same activity. At 10:07:58 the Affected Filename is just ‘A1’ not a file name or a program, possibly a dump of a memory ROM but that is not controlled by the user. How this leads to the Stated activity – ‘File Download’ is impossible and the Note – ‘Portable browser application downloaded by user action via keyboard’ is technobabble!
The physical evidence shows we were in Whangarei at 10:55 meeting a Trade Me customer who had left part of his vehicle at Killara when he picked up one of the items we were selling on TradeMe a week earlier. It takes well over one hour to drive from Killara to Whangarei, longer when, as on this day, traffic was heavy with people going to Auckland for the start of the Rugby World Cup later that day. If the keyboard was being used at that time it must have been by one of the intruders but I guess it was just Jorgensen being his unique sort of ‘Computer Expert.’
Almost all the entries are similar to this, there are no authoritative references to show anything he states is correct, the document is just a classic example of the sort of ‘evidence’ produced by Jorgensen – classic Technobabble!
Dawson made a great play of showing me references in the report, quoting the name of the report and the page and paragraph numbers that he was referring to.
Finally, he explained how they thought the fire was caused, I had sent an email to the PC at the house, the PC had automatic software to print this email and I had hacked the printer and put it in the library so that it burst into flames when this occurred and this started the fire that destroyed the house.
I almost fell off my chair with laughter but I retrained myself. It was utterly bizarre and totally impossible. I tried to explain why to Dawson, realising he wouldn’t understand but that others, who I knew would be watching might begin to see the issue. I pointed out that I only owned two printers, they were both made by Brother and both of them were based on ‘Ink Jet’ technology., simple devices, inexpensive with no heat source in the design at all and no re-programmable firmware as you would find in top of the range laser printers. I told Dawson that I had been buying chipped printer cartridges for these printers off TradeMe for five or six years and the trading record would support this, I had never had a laser printer in New Zealand so the whole idea that the printer could burst into flames or be ‘hacked’ would not stand up at all.
Dawson told me that Joseph and Jorgensen had found my searches for all the components in my PC browser history files and reconstructed the system and because the reconstruction worked it proved that I was guilty!
Shortly after this, Dawson left the room with the tape left running for around 20–30 minutes, I expected him to return and tell me I could go but he came back, glum faced and continued, the DVD recorder stopped having filled it’s first DVD so a new one was inserted with the usual explanation of what happened to the cover the interruption.
I asked a couple of questions, pointing out that the printer would not even work in the library, the wifi networks in 2011 were not very strong and the signal down there was poor unless you were close to the glass in the window. I also told them that only one of the two almost identical printers was wifi, the other was connected by a cable to the laptop we used in the kitchen workstation and that I suspected that telling the remains apart to show the printer found in the library, which was directly under the kitchen workstation was the wi-fi one would be near impossible but it was a waste of time talking to Dawson so I gave up.
The events that followed the interview defined the whole case – Read all about them here.