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R v Sinha
Computer Based Evidence
This sad case involved a doctor, whose patient died as a result of the prescription of a drug which was incompatible with her asthma. The doctor altered the computer database records for her medical history. His alterations were discovered, and he was charged and convicted of 'Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice'.
The case was R v Sinha CACD Times 13 July 1994. The central question was as to how he could be convicted of an offence when at the time of his actions, no case against him was yet commenced. How could he impede the progress of something which did not exist? Could there be a course of Justice when no course had begun to run?
Well of course he could create exactly that effect. That was precisely what he had tried to do. He was convicted. It was inevitable that a coroners inquest would follow the death, and that his acts in altering the database would tend to mislead the Coroner's Court.
For computer users, the significance is yet again to emphasise the need for investigators (and users) to be fully aware of the fact that computers do not, when asked to delete something actually delete it. Typically, they merely remove the index entry relating to that data. The data remains, and can often be found by a competent practitioner.
Indeed it is quite clear that there are very substantial traces of much of the activity which takes place on a computer. Computers are good at making copies of almost everything, and of keeping that copy 'just in case' Many files contain very much more information than the user will immediately see. Word files are notorious. The ten word note you create, will often occupy 32000 characters. That spare space will be filled with all sorts of goodies - not least often earlier versions of the note.
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