Black Box Unravels Scottish Whodunit

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Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, black boxes? An automotive telematics device unravelled a whodunit in Scotland this week, leading to the conviction of 32-year-old Daniel Paita of Kirkintilloch for a knife attack and attempted murder.

When Paita drove to Reyside Road in Glasgow to meet Barry Divers, 29, in February of last year he thought he was pulling off the perfect crime. There were no witnesses to the brutal knife attack that slashed Divers’ jugular vein, and Paita claimed he hadn’t been in the area that day. Divers, whose life was saved by the quick action of local residents and emergency services at nearby Stobhill Hospital, testified that Paita was his attacker.

But it was the information collected by the black box in the car Paita was driving that ultimately led to his conviction earlier this month. Paita was driving a courtesy car from his insurance company after his own vehicle was involved in a crash and didn’t know the Audi A3 was equipped with a black box.

“The tracking device will indicate to us and to the police what route has been taken from A to B,” Anthony Armstrong, a fraud investigator with Accident Exchange, the company that provided the car, testified. “It provides information about where the vehicle is even when the engine is switched off.”

The telematics device showed Paita driving to visit his then-girlfriend and then arriving at Reyside Road at 2.15pm and parking there for two minutes. It was during those two minutes that Paita attacked Divers with a knife. There was reportedly bad blood between a friend of Divers and Paita’s brother James and Divers had agreed to meet an intermediary on that road to resolve the feud.

The evidence gathered by the car’s black box device was passed on to police by Asset Production Unit, which frequently works with the police to reduce motor fraud. “It is extremely pleasing to have been an important cog in convicting an individual like this. It might never have happened at all had the device not been installed in his car,” Neil Thomas from Asset Production Unit said.

“They [telematics devices] are able to generate data about the inner workings of a vehicle but also show its location at any time, which is a great help to us, the police and victims if vehicles are used for criminal activity,” he continued.

Paita was convicted by the High Court in Glasgow earlier this month, and on Thursday was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

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L. V. Smith

Lauren has written for a variety of publications on both sides of the Atlantic. She prefers driving Automatic.