Access denied: Police will ‘never know’ contents of phones
A MAN who claimed he was unable to remember his pass code to unlock two encrypted mobile phones when police raided his home has been sentenced to a jail term.
Ephraim Waretini suffered apparent memory loss as police executed a court-issued search warrant at his home in Springfield Lakes on September 10 last year.
At Ipswich Magistates Court this week Ephraim Reheri Tekohanga Runolp Waretini, 27, of Redbank Plains, pleaded guilty to contravening a police order about information necessary to access information stored electronically on September 10, 2019; and breach of his bail conditions.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said police searched the house and found one encrypted mobile phone in his bedroom.
Waretini did not provide access to the phone as requested.
Despite being directed again to unlock it, and warned a number of times that he was committing an offence, Waretini did not unlock his phone.
Sgt Dick said a second encrypted phone was found beneath a bowl on a dining table and Waretini also declined to give police access to this device.
Waretini was arrested and taken to the police watch-house before being bailed.
Sgt Dick said Waretini breached a bail condition by not reporting to Springfield Lakes police station on October 16.
Defence lawyer Evan Corcoran said Waretini was a man of good character with no criminal history and there had been "significant co-operation", with an early plea.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess questioned Mr Corcoran's claim of an early plea, saying Waretini's legal representatives had attempted to enter pleas of guilty some time before.
Sgt Dick said the police file shows a guilty plea had been indicated on April 1.
"There was some attempt to unlock the mobile devices by my client, it was unsuccessful," Mr Corcoran said.
"He unfortunately could not remember the exact code numbers."
Mr Corcoran sought a significant fine but not a jail penalty with no conviction recorded.
Ms Sturgess said a maximum jail term of five years could be imposed, to act as a deterrent.
"It will be forever unknown as to what may have been concealed on the two encrypted phones," Ms Sturgess said.
"You say it was yours yet refused to provide access. A second phone you again failed to provide.
"It is serious to defy a court order."
After taking into account his good work ethic and no criminal history, Ms Sturgess said it was still an offence that warranted a period in prison as a deterrent.
Waretini was sentenced to a nine-month jail term which was suspended for two years.
He was fined $200 for the bail breach, with no conviction recorded.