Hunt’s card paid for software

2016-02-10 09:45
Advocate Penny Hunt arrives at the high court.

Advocate Penny Hunt arrives at the high court. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A computer expert on Tuesday confirmed that advocate Penny Hunt’s credit card was used to buy digital software online late in 2010.

Hunt faces the possibility of being disbarred over a bugging scandal at the Pietermaritzburg advocates’ chambers.

A computer forensic specialist, Sean Morrow — who was called to testify on her behalf on Tuesday, was confronted under cross examination with Hunt’s credit card statement, which reflects a purchase online from the Elements5info website.

Morrow confirmed that the website offers “all sorts of digital software for sale”. He was unable, however, despite attempts at doing so, to establish exactly what product was bought. He said this was either because the e-mail address used didn’t correspond with Hunt’s e-mail address, or because the data was so old it was no longer available.

The questions were raised by Alan Boulle, representing the KZN Society of Advocates, in relation to evidence by Houston “Tex” Impey that he installed software on Hunt’s computer after paying for it with her credit card.

Impey testified that he placed a listening device into the ceiling of the advocates’ chambers on Hunt’s instructions on October 29, 2010. It was linked to a free Internet version of a program called “Audacity”, which he uploaded to her computer.

Impey said Hunt, however, wasn’t happy with the program and asked him to upgrade it. This was done, with payment processed on her credit card, he said.

Hunt has denied giving Impey instructions to bug the advocates’ chambers, or to place a tracker on advocate Mergen Chetty’s car, as he alleges she did.

In his evidence, Morrow on Tuesday focused on allegedly “unauthorised” e-mails found on Hunt’s secretary Allyson Bradbury’s work computer, which she must have “intercepted” from her ex-husband during her divorce, and other e-mails indicating unauthorised private use by Bradbury of her office computer. He said in his opinion this demonstrated she had “above average” computer skills.

It also emerged during Morrow’s evidence that when Hunt’s computer hard drive — which was seized in March 2011 — was eventually returned by police on December 9, 2014, it was irreparably damaged.

Computer experts had since agreed it was most likely the drive was dropped at some stage while it was in police custody.

In terms of an agreement, all copies made of the drive, including that of the police, were destroyed.

Morrow (who said Hunt hired him in September 2013 to assist with her case) confirmed that he instructed University of Cape Town Professor Andrie Stander on December 9, 2014, to destroy his copy of the hard drive. Stander, who was out of the country, had replied that he had “already done so”.

Morrow was challenged by Boulle as to why the data was not used to prove Hunt’s innocence.

Morrow agreed it would have been simple to establish from the drive if a voice recording mechanism was installed, but said he didn’t know that Hunt’s drive was damaged when he instructed Stander to destroy his copy.

He also pointed out that Stander had already destroyed his copy.

Another electronics expert called on Hunt’s behalf on Tuesday, Leonardo Nardi, testified that he had uncovered a number “odd things” relating to the tracking device recovered from Chetty’s car in May 2011.

The tracker was allegedly installed by Impey and Dennis de Beer on October 29, 2010, and was supposedly programmed to send SMSes “every 15 minutes” to Hunt to enable her to track Chetty’s movements.

However, Nardi said Vodacom records showed that the SIM card in the tracker was used in “at least two devices”, that the device only communicated with one cell number, being Impey’s, that it did not communicate with Hunt’s cell number at all, and that it was configured to report “once or twice daily at most”. It stopped working on November 21, 2011 because the battery was flat.

The case has now been postponed until October 31 for further evidence.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court

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