Dealing with identity information to commit an indictable offence
Dealing with identity information to commit an indictable offence –Represented by Criminal Lawyers Sydney George Sten & Co Not Guilty Result
An IT contractor has been cleared of 20 charges after he was accused of posting confidential documents to the internet and dark web in a data breach that exposed names, addresses, phone numbers and financial information.
Stephen Bruce Grant, 51, faced trial in the NSW District Court accused of taking documents from valuation firm LandMark White and posting them on file-sharing website Scribd and the dark web. Links to the data were then shared on a website frequented by hackers.
Mr Grant pleaded not guilty to 22 charges, including 15 counts of dealing with identity information to commit an indictable offence. He argued that LandMark White’s system had a security vulnerability which meant its valuation database was effectively open to anyone on the internet.
On Wednesday, a jury of four men and seven women found him not guilty of 20 charges after deliberating for about a day. The jury has not yet reached a verdict on the other two charges.
Crown prosecutor Nick Borosh had argued Mr Grant uploaded the documents using fake names in an attempt to conceal his involvement, however he said there was still compelling evidence suggesting Mr Grant was responsible.
This included a computer linked to Mr Grant being used at Sydney Airport to upload documents, at a time Mr Grant was travelling to Melbourne, Mr Borosh said.
One of the charges Mr Grant was acquitted of was accessing the email accounts of senior LandMark White employees, including the chief information officer, between October 2017 and March 2018 to facilitate the commission of the other charges he was accused of.
In her closing arguments, Mr Grant’s barrister Nicole Carroll said her client had accessed the email when he was not supposed to, which the jury might think is “nosy”, but that alone was not enough to convict him.
She said Mr Grant had raised the vulnerability in LandMark White’s system multiple times, however “all of it seems to have fallen on deaf ears” and nothing was done.
“Are you certain, are you satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, that it was Stephen Grant that uploaded Scribd documents?” she said.
When Mr Grant was arrested in 2019, detectives suggested in an interview that he uploaded LandMark White’s documents to Scribd up to 35 times in one day, and on one occasion his own IP address was recorded as the uploader because software to conceal his identity inexplicably failed.
“I’m going to deny that and say no comment to all of it,” Mr Grant said.
He said it was a “complete lie” that he said during a meeting that he was going to “take LandMark White down”.
The jury will continue its deliberations next week.