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March 31, 2020

Your Location Could Prove Your Innocence

Sometimes, it will be necessary to prove a persons whereabouts at a certain time. For instance, when investigating if a person was physically present at a crime scene in order to determine if they are responsible for the crime or any type of illegal acts.

During a dispute between domestic partners, providing the most credible alibi is the only way to absolve you from the eyes of your suspicious partner. In the case of criminal and civil matters, the evidence that will put a person at a certain place and time can certainly make a huge difference in the overall outcome.

An example of this is a recent case we handled that involved a washing machine repairman named Bill Spedding. His life was about to get overturned as a result of being wrongfully accused as a child abductor by the police in NSW.

It happened around September of 2014 when the entire country was shaken by the disappearance of a 3-year old boy named William Tyrrell. He was believed to be staying at the house of his grandmother in Kendall, NSW. The boy was playing with his sister while their mother supervised them.

After leaving them for a few minutes to get a drink, she began to worry when she couldn’t hear William’s voice anymore. At around 11 AM, the emergency services were alerted about the disappearance of the boy, and what began was a lengthy but futile search of the 3-year old boy.

During the investigation, it was established that Bill Spedding had visited their home on September 6 when he was hired to fix their damaged washing machine. This made him a person of interest. 5 years later, Spedding decided to sue the state of NSW due to malicious prosecution.

The police case that was filed against Spedding was merely based on the statement of the neighbour of the Tyrrells, who said that they found the van of Spedding travelling into a bush track during the time the kidnapping took place. The neighbour then recanted his statement in front of the court saying that he only saw a van that’s similar to what Spedding was driving.

Revealed in an inquest, Spedding’s wife claimed that they had actually gone out on that day to see their grandchild receive an award from school. She further revealed that they went to a café across the school at around 9:30 in the morning. Luckily, they were able to show a receipt during inquest revealing that coffee and food was purchased using their card, which was a joint account with his wife, at around 9:45 in the morning of that day.

In addition, their claims were confirmed by a parent from the school who revealed that she saw Spedding attend the assembly at that same time that the child was said to be abducted. Unfortunately, it took months for the police to conduct an investigation of such alibi. Aside from the shoddy evidence against the accused, there was a proof that he was not at the scene, which was in the form of a receipt from the café  and the testimony given by the one parent who saw them attending the ceremony.

The statement from the witness and the evidence in the form of receipts are some of the means that can prove that a person is actually at a different location at the time of the crime. Evidence like CCTV footage, parking tickets, metadata, timesheets, and even diary notes are all considered valid proof.

Time is essential when it comes to collecting location-based evidence, especially if you are trying to document digital evidence. Data from computers and mobile phones can also be used as proof of the person’s location at a particular time, by looking at the time of a call or text message. Applications that are capable of recording the location of a device may also be used as proof in cases like these.

Unfortunately, in the case of Tyrrell, the police seemed to have put more focus on accusing Spedding, which might have impeded on other important aspects of the investigation. According to Spedding’s lawyer, the police’s narrow focus affected the manner of how police would normally go about their process of investigation. It’s clear that Spedding was a false lead and could have ultimately affected other areas of opportunities which could have made a more fruitful and productive investigation.

This is usually the reason why several investigations end up unsuccessful. It’s extremely important that all possibilities are taken into consideration when investigating certain issues. Making premature judgment is a serious error that could jeopardise the entire process of an investigation. An important principle to abide by is to never discount any leads even if some pieces of evidence will point towards another direction.

This is why investigators often advise people to make it a habit to write their signature regularly so whenever it is forged, it will be easy to compare fake signatures to the real ones. It’s also a good idea to keep receipts, activate the location settings on your mobile phone, or keep a calendar or diary. Above all, you should always try to be mindful of where you went and whom you saw at those places.

That way, if you are accused of something, whether it is by the police, your employer, partner, ATO, or anyone, you will have these pieces of evidence to absolve yourself from these false accusations. If you don’t have any proof, then there will always be questions and you will most likely be considered as a key suspect in the case.

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