September 2002

18 months for disgruntled engineer turned hacker

A computer engineer hacked into a firm's database and wiped it after the company refused to pay him for a job he botched.

Managers watched in horror as complicated drawings, which had taken three years to compile, mysteriously vanished off their screens.

Hacker Stephen Carey, 28, was jailed for 18 months after a judge said the sabotage had been "malicious in the extreme".

Carey had been employed by sheet metal firm RP Duct Work to update its computer system.

But he made a mess of the job and the firm had to pay another expert 80 an hour to put it right.

When bosses refused to pay Carey's bill, he logged into the system which he had adapted to access from home.

He then deleted all of its files, including detailed designs for the air conditioning units it made. RP Duct Work, based in Hailsham, East Sussex, put the damage at up to 50,000.

Judge David Rennie, jailing Carey in the first prosecution of its kind in Britain, said: "You acted in a dishonest fashion without thinking of the consequences."
"You are a clever man and, in my view, a cunning man and knew you would cause great harm and that your actions were malicious in the extreme."
"You were caught out by expert evidence from someone who was cleverer than you."

Police had worked with BT to trace the crime back to Carey's computer.

Father-of-four Carey, of Eastbourne, had pleaded not guilty to unauthorized modification of computer material. Mark Watson, defending, told Hove Crown Court Carey, did not do it for cash gain and did not know the firm's files were not backed up.

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