Teenage hacker who conspired to attack Sussex Police told to pay with pocket money

The boy was given a 12-month referral order
The boy was given a 12-month referral order

A teenage hacker who conspired to attack Sussex Police and the Hong Kong government has been told his pocket money should be docked.

The 17-year-old boy from Hove, who cannot be named for legal reasons, played a ‘significant role’ in an online hacker conspiracy group.

He appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court earlier today for sentencing, after previously pleading guilty to three hacking offences that took place when he was just 14.

District Judge Christopher James told the boy: “It is clear that you agreed with others to attack the National Crime Agency, Sussex Police, the Hong Kong government, American police targets and Israeli websites.”

He imposed a 12-month referral order, which means the boy will be required to pay back the public for what he has done.

Because the defendant is under 18, charges totalling £95 will have to be paid by his mum and dad, who sat beside their son in court.

Mr James said: “The costs will be made against your parents.” But he suggested it should be ‘deducted from any pocket money’.

The boy admitted two charges of conspiring to cause a public nuisance earlier this month.

The first involved the boy conspiring with others to gain access to computer servers they had no right to.

The second charge was conspiring to gain unauthorised access to computer systems with the intention of gaining information and taking the system down.

He admitted a third charge of possessing an array of off-the-shelf hacking tools that could be used to attack websites.

Stephen Paley, defending the boy, said since his arrest the boy had started using his hacking talents for good, helping to find and fix security flaws in company websites.

He added: “It is fair to say that some kind of water has gone under the bridge.”

Mr Paley told the court the defendant was a ‘young man who has grown isolated’ and was living in a ‘bubble’.

He said: “His situation was very difficult at home, it seems he was trying to get away from what was going on.”

He told the court that he had been two days into a college course when he was arrested: “I think his arrest disrupted his studies.”

Discussing the possible sentences available Mr Paley told the judge: “Custody simply won’t achieve anything and I think there is evidence that it would be very detrimental.”

Sentencing him, Mr James said: “Computer hacking such as this creates chaos for users who have done nothing wrong.

“There are cases where punishments are measured in terms of years in custody.

“It is clear that your involvement in the conspiracy was a significant role in that you were involved at least in the discussion as the admin and were involved in recruiting others.

“You have an element of talent that is clearly in need of direction and focus.”

Discussing the punishment Mr James said he took into account the defendant’s early guilty plea, lack of previous convictions and lack of financial motivation or gain.

He said he also took into account the boy’s ‘vulnerability to exploitation from people who are far more criminally sophisticated’.