UNUSUAL CHARGE: A Gladstone man was charged with contravening a court order necessary to access electronic information after failing to provide police with his PIN code.
UNUSUAL CHARGE: A Gladstone man was charged with contravening a court order necessary to access electronic information after failing to provide police with his PIN code. Cathryn McLauchlan

Man gets jail term for refusing to tell police his phone PIN

A GLADSTONE man with a history of drug trafficking has been sentenced to a month in prison for refusing to give police the PIN code or password to his mobile phone and tablet.

Richard Cedric Ingra, 49, pleaded guilty at Gladstone Magistrates Court on Friday to a charge of contravening a court order necessary to access electronic information.

The unusual charge was laid against him after police executed a search warrant at his home on April 26, where they discovered a small amount of cannabis and clip-seal bags.

The court heard police then requested access to Ingra's mobile phone and a Samsung tablet they found lying on the kitchen counter, but he told officers he did not know the codes needed to access them.

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"Police gave him ample opportunities, and then got a (court) order, and still he refused to do so," police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens told the court.

"It's interesting to note that he said he couldn't remember the PIN number, but he was recharging it."

Sergeant Stevens acknowledged it was an unusual charge in the circumstances, and carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

"I have researched this charge your honour, and I couldn't find any authorities which would assist the court," Sgt Stevens told the court.

Defence lawyer Lauren Townshend said her client had instructed her that he had been celebrating his birthday the night before the warrant was executed, and people "were playing with his devices and had changed the PIN details".

But Magistrate Melanie Ho rejected this as a possible explanation for his inability to provide the code.

"Why did he not then ask whoever changed his PIN number to give him the correct PIN number so he could comply with the court order?" she said.

"And I understand, with the backdrop of the trafficking, which was his last serious offence, why police would have requested (the PIN numbers)."

Ms Ho sentenced Ingra to a one-month prison sentence for the contravention offence, suspended for 12 months, and fined him $600 for the drug offences.

"It's not to me logical why people would want to change the log-on on your (tablet)," she said.



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