Feeds

back to article Phone charging log helps to convict murderer

An Australian man has been convicted of murder after mobile phone metadata describing when the device was connected to a charger was tabled as evidence. Alison Baden-Clay disappeared from her Brisbane home on April 19th, 2012. Her body was found in a nearby creek 11 days later. Her husband, Gerard Baden-Clay, claimed he was …

Silver badge
Joke

Guilty

As charged!

34
0
Silver badge

Re: Guilty

So the verdict was electrifying?

4
0

What?

Why does a phone keep a log of when it was plugged in to charge? my phone gets plugged in to charge about 30 times day (in and out of car and in charger on desk - remove to take call, put back)... surely recording this info just takes up space?

Have I missed something here? Miss read the article?

I'm confused!

6
0

Re: What?

Also, just a thought that popped into my head - could it not have been a power cut that reset the charging flag? does it also record the fact that a physical "unplug" happened?

Not trying to cast doubt on the case - just wondering what goes through the mind of phone developers if they think: "I know, it would be really useful to know how many times a phone is plugged in to something, lets add extra bloat to the software to do that..."

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What?

"just wondering what goes through the mind of phone developers if they think: "I know, it would be really useful to know how many times a phone is plugged in to something, lets add extra bloat to the software to do that...""

Terms and Conditions plus battery duty cycle. If your battery dies and you claim on the warranty they need a way to make sure that you were charging it correctly.

2
4
Silver badge

@Russell Hancock

Also, just a thought that popped into my head - could it not have been a power cut that reset the charging flag? does it also record the fact that a physical "unplug" happened?

If the Oz legal system is anything like the UK one, the defence will have been given advance sight of the prosecutions case, plus any details of crucial evidence like this. It would then be up to the defence to accept, or dispute the evidence. Whilst they might be able to suggest alternative explanations for the evidence (in this case the fact the phone reported being "charged" at a certain time) they would also have to back it up with some proof - maybe a report from the power company ?

There are several alternative explanations beyond that. Faulty charger ? Faulty mechanical connection ? Faulty phone ?

The thing is these alternatives should also have occurred to the prosecution, and been eliminated *before* deciding to introduce it into evidence.

5
0

Re: What?

You thought gadgets were for your amusement, not your tracking?

4
0

Re: What?

Android records a history of battery charge level over the past 24hrs or so, and is easily accessible from the battery usage tab. From this it would be pretty obvious at what time the phone was on charge as the battery level would be increasing.

0
0

Re: @Russell Hancock

But if the power cut was local, i.e. the fuse blew for the circuit that the socket was on, then he could simply have said I got up and fixed the fuse.

The obligation to prove guilt lies with the prosecution so defence would not have had to provide anything, the prosecution would need to show that the fuse didn't blow or that he got up to fix it during the night when he claimed he was asleep, etc.

And finally, I bet the charging information is on the phone and therefore not something GSHQ or NSA need to force the ISP/phone company to keep. It probably also has a set size so wipes entries to maintain space.

0
0
j.p

disappointed, but the reg is worth it

there are two regular stops on my net-news rounds before and after work, the register and the conversation. on both, i can seek a more balanced viewpoint than the fairfax/murdoch press available in the antipodes (i joyously noted one of the vulture south authors retweeting john birmingham the other day, a freelance - i think - columnist for fairfax, and genius author in his own right... but that's a total red herring...)

with weeks of blanket coverage on televised, radio and print news, i've gratefully dodged the bullet that is this stupid and unremarkable murder case, by seeking refuge in the simply *better* science and tech news that is old faithful here... and its less tech cousin at the conversation.

simon, i totally understand the tech angle and it is worthy of note for a tech news site, but i had to suppress a shudder when i read on the register, a headline related to this hateful distraction from the last couple of months worth of actual real news.

my tinfoil-hat-side, has been assuming that this murder trial is a deliberate overwhelming of popular media akin to a magician's misdirection - and intended to distract us from some awful legislation or horrendous activity going on elsewhere in the country...

3
3
Bronze badge
Unhappy

@J.P.

I don't see any reason to be disappointed. There is very much a tech/privacy angle to this.

As far as overloading the media I tend to agree. A few years ago the media was overloaded about a "shock jock" who called a women's college basketball team a " bunch of Nappy Headed Hoes".

You couldn't get any real news for two weeks.

1
0
Silver badge

@ What?

Probably put there so that when you send the phone in for repairs they can tell whether you've been mistreating the battery.

0
0

My iPhone tells me how long it's been in-use since its last full charge.

I imagine recording when it was charged is part of that.

Androids give you a battery graph which shows charge/discharge in some detail. Again, recording when (and by how much) the battery was charged is all part of that data collection.

1
1

Is it really metadata?

Is it really metadata, or is it actually the data (i.e. the log) that was used. Ever since various leaks, all I seem to see is the word metadata being used, even when it's not appropriate.

So did they use the logs, or did they provide some data about their source data (and if so why, given there was only one subject)?

</grumpy pedant>

10
0
Bronze badge

Re: Is it really metadata?

Well if you wanted to be ultra-pedantic you could argue that any data on a system that is not (directly or indirectly) user-generated constitutes metadata but have an upvote anyway.

0
0
Silver badge

I think there's a moral to be derived from this story

"Buy the extended life battery".

(What's that you say? iPhones don't have user-fitted batteries? So much for functionality, you can't even murder your wife with one.)

2
1
Silver badge

Re: I think there's a moral to be derived from this story

Have an upvote

I have now invested in an android burner phone, erm for testing purposes....@Jedit, you are now my alibi

1
0

Hmm.

His phone being in the dock, put him in the dock!

0
0

What about wireless charging?

Does it know the difference between wired charging and wireless charging. Does it know the difference between the phone being first put on the charging pad and when it re-starts charging after the battery drops below the threshhold?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Gomez Adams

this is one time you'll be grateful that judges are doddery old fuckers ;). As a rule judges are *very* sceptical of technology, and are not dazzled by the shiny. When "novel" evidence is introduced, it's the judges *job* to ensure it's up to the standards required by the court. This is why, you will never see an astrologer called as an expert witness ....

2
0
TRT
Silver badge

A substantial lesson to be learned is...

don't take a phone with you when you're out and about up to shenanigans. Don't drive your own car (odometer, GPS/mapping, traffic cameras). Don't take a taxi (credit cards, in cab cameras). Don't use a mass transit system (CCTV, "Oyster cards", credit cards).

In fact... just don't. Be a good little citizen instead.

4
0
Silver badge
Holmes

"In fact... just don't. Be a good little citizen instead."

Next week on CSI: Baker Street:

"The killer refrained from using omnibuses, hansom cabs or his own vehicles to commit this murder, Watson. You might say ... the game is afoot!"

YEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

8
0

Shouldn't be to hard to disprove, or in fact rely on this type of expectation that you carry your phone everywhere and there will usable data that can help prove or disprove your case.

All he had to say was that "He got up for a piss in the night, noticed his phone was low on juice and plugged it in".

The more nefarious, could leave their phone at home go and do the deeds, and claim they were home all night as it hasn't been off charge and was connected to the wireless network all the time.

Location of phone and charging status does not equal location of phones owner.

I suspect that there may have been slightly more key evidence than this that convicted him, but it's all good to know.

5
0

All he had to say was that "He got up for a piss in the night, noticed his phone was low on juice and plugged it in".

Then how come he did not notice his wife was missing?

Seems to me that if the guy was stupid enough to take his phone with him, he would not have switched it off.

Was he not more incriminated by which cells he connected to while it was off charge?

1
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Should have used an Android - their batteries are removable!

This guy made a mistake, he used an iPhone with it's unmovable battery.

Another reason to use Android!

0
0
Trollface

Marketing

Surely this will be used by Apple to proves that i* help solve crimes. They can even have a iPhone wearing a cape and spandex.

note to self: A method to use a device to solve crimes. Realy must patent that before Apple retrospectively do, and then sue the Oz gov for infringement.

0
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon