In March 2012, the insured lawyer, having got nowhere with his contact with IAG issued a case in the High Court against IAG, they had 25 days to issue a defence. The investigators really had no evidence at all against the insured but if IAG failed to file a defence, a Judgment forcing them to pay the claim would undoubtedly have followed.
On 17 April’12 DC Bill Dawson arrived at the insured’s rented property in Tapu and arrested Chris Robinson for Arson and associated charges. He was taken to Thames Police station and agreed to be interviewed. It was only days before the time limit for IAG to reply to the High Court case.
The Police interview
The interview was long and complicated by the DVD recording equipment still being set at NZ winter time, so every interruption had to have comments as to the actual time which made those events memorable.
Dawson was referring to reports by the investigators continuously throughout the interview, showing pages to Chris on several occasions. One report in particular, reported as a Computer Forensics Report by Martin Jorgensen was the main reference document once Dawson moved on to the purported remote ignition system. It had a picture of three hard drives, recovered from the PC at Killara by Joseph.
After about an hour, Dawson explained how the fire had been started, according to the investigators. It was stated that Chris had hacked the printer at Killara so that it burst into flames when an email was received and printed automatically. The burning printer then started the fire that destroyed Killara.
Chris was told that the investigators had found hacking tools on the hard drive recovered from the PC at Killara and that Joseph had recreated the hacked printer remote ignition system and made it work. He had not heard about the HP Printer publicity but it was immediately apparent to him that the system as described by Dawson could never work.
Possibly unwisely at the time, he explained the issues with the purported ignition system to Dawson. The printers at Killara he explained were all Brother ink-jets, very simple electronic devices with no memory that could be hacked and more importantly having no heat source at all. It would be impossible to cause a fire using an ink-jet printer, hacked or not.
Dawson left Chris alone in the room shortly afterwards to consult his colleagues outside. Chris expected to be released but after about 40 minutes, Dawson returned and continued.
The DVD system stopped recording, due to the first DVD being full, shortly after this, Dawson had to explain the procedure of moving to the second DVD, it took a while before the interview continued with lots of trivial details.
After the interview Dawson went through the procedure of signing DVD’s and gave Chris a signed and sealed copy. Chris was amazed to be charged with Arson since he had destroyed the ignition theory.
It was essential that he was charged since it gave IAG’s lawyers a reason not to reply to the High Court Case.
Dawson gave Chris three large box files of Disclosure and arranged for a driver to take him to Hamilton Police station, where he was told to hand in the disclosure and DVD’s and collect them the next day after his brief Court appearance.
After an uncomfortable night at Hamilton Police station Chris appeared at the High Court briefly and was bailed immediately. Oddly, he wasn’t allowed to use a phone to call his wife and he had no cash at all. It took some time for him to contact his wife and then he had to wait for her to drive to Hamilton from Tapu to pick him up.
They drove to the Police Station and asked for the disclosure files handed in the afternoon before, they were told to wait. After about ten minutes they were told that the disclosure files had been lost! Chris object loudly, they repeated the search with the same result.
Chris asked to speak to a senior officer, after around 20 minutes he was shown into an office with a senior officer who told him that a small file of disclosure had been found. Chris looked at the tiny folder and objected again. He was warned that he must accept the position and leave immediately or he would be arrested for his disturbing the peace.
He had no option, he left and found the folder only contained DVD’s of the Police and Fire Service site photos and some meaningless pieces of paper. There was no sign of any of the reports of the investigators or the signed and sealed interview DVD set.
After a couple of days recovering from the ordeal Chris emailed Andrew Hooker with a brief summary of the case against him.
Andrew replied cautiously, telling Chris to wait for the disclosure, he obviously expected the tricks from IAG.
Having never heard of printers being hacked, Chris also posted on Printer Forums asking for assistance. At least one of those posts is still visible at https://www.printerforums.net/threads/inkjet-in-flames.61063/#post-201155
Another event had also taken place at this time, ASB had, weeks earlier, asked the insured if they could get the remains of the property removed to allow them to put the land on the market to recover some of their loan to the insured. They had been refused permission to do so on the grounds that the site may contain further evidence as to the cause of the fire. ASB however carried on and had the remains removed, the work they later discovered had finished on the 16 April’11, the day before Chris’s arrest.