Feeds

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Plane plummet plod probe phone

SIM chip IDs stowaway who completely went to pieces

Business security measures using SSL

The man who spread himself across a street in Mortlake, London, after falling from an aircraft undercarriage has been identified. Police finally managed to crack open the SIM in his pocket and study it to discover who he was.

Jose Matada was the chap's name and he was 30 years old, the BBC tells us. He landed on Portman Avenue with a "massive bang" at 7.42am on 8 September last year, but the impact of the fall made identifying him a huge challenge.

An aeroplane from Angola was coming into Heathrow at the time, and would have dropped its landing gear at roughly the right moment to place the bloke on that street. But despite creating a photofit of his face and circulating copies of his tattoos, it was the SIM that finally gave investigating officers a name.

The chip was inside a phone, but that was obliterated along with the man's other identifying features after the fall from several hundred feet. The SIM was locked with a PIN, which explains why it has taken seven months to get the data off it - particularly since it turns out Matada was from Mozambique.

The police realised the SIM was important very early; officers are well-briefed on the value of mobile technology these days, but a SIM secured with a PIN is still tough to read. A handful of wrong entries and it locks itself down and refuses to communicate until the owning-operator's PUK (PIN Unlock Key) is entered, which one can only get if one knows the owning operator.

Given the presence of the Angolan flight - and of Angolan currency in the man's pocket - officers had assumed the unlucky man was from that country, and so presumably contacted local operators while reconstructing his face and photographing those tattoos. Most SIMs have a serial number written on the outside, from which one can identify the manufacturer, which would then be able to provide the name of the operator. We don't know if the number was legible, but if it wasn't that would explain the seven-month delay.

We are told that detectives called the phone numbers stored on the SIM but are still trying to contact his next of kin, so he probably didn't have much of an address book on the SIM - leaving only a list of the last few numbers dialled which all SIMs store by default.

Now that the body has a name, an inquest has been opened, but despite the stowaway originating in Mozambique rather than Angola, the story is a sadly familiar one: a desperate 30-year-old without a thorough grounding in relative air pressures and modern-day aircraft cabin design thought he could get to a better life in the UK.

Instead, the poor bloke ended up smeared across a West London street - leaving nothing but the last few numbers he dialled stored in a chip small enough to survive the impact. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.