Cyber expert sues cop over hacking charge
A cybersecurity expert charged with hacking into a Brisbane law firm's computer system is suing a Queensland cop for malicious prosecution. He says the saga cost him his 'business, two years of my life, and a lot, lot more'.
Warren Simondson, a leading digital forensic investigator, is claiming tens of thousands of damages for the 'indignity, humiliation and disgrace' he suffered in the failed prosecution.
He has launched District Court action against Senior Constable Graham Pease, who worked in the Queensland police High Tech Crime Investigation Unit.
Mr Simondson was arrested and charged in March 2013 with hacking into the McKays Law firm's computers.
His claim states he was charged after his IT services contract with McKays was terminated and he allegedly hacked into the firm's server and deleted back-up files, causing almost $60,000 damage.
But in 2015, a Brisbane magistrate found there was no evidence to support the charge and dismissed the case.
Mr Simondson has alleged in his claim that after receiving a complaint from McKays' IT manager that the law firm's computers had been hacked into, Sen-Const Pease raided his home and seized his computers which were then sent to the Queensland Police Electronic Evidence Examination (EEE) Unit for forensic examination.
The officer then arrested and charged Mr Simondson with the hacking offence, alleging his computer had been identified as the one used to hack into the McKays system.
But in court documents filed last week, Mr Simondson claimed that when Pease laid the charge, he had not even received the results of the EEE forensic examination - and when he later did, they did not confirm any hacking took place or that damage had been caused.
Mr Simondson alleged that despite this, Pease 'maliciously' pursued the prosecution.
As a result, the computer expert claimed he had incurred more than $135,000 in legal expenses fighting the prosecution, suffered 'indignity, humiliation and disgrace' as well as fear and anxiety over the threat of a wrongful conviction.
He is seeking almost $200,000 in damages.
Mr Simondson told The Courier-Mail he had brought the action out of principle.
"A lot of people have told me to forget about what happened and just walk away, but I'm not willing to do that," he said.
"It cost me my business, two years of my life, and a lot, lot more. To me, it's a simple matter of justice."
He has hired high-profile Gold Coast law firm Nyst Legal to represent him.
Sen-Const Pease has yet to file a defence to the claim.