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Plymouth teen convicted of cyber-attacks and US airline bomb hoaxes

06/07/2016

Today, a 16-year-old has been convicted at Plymouth Youth Court of cyber-attacks on a number of websites and tweeting bomb hoaxes to two major US airlines.

One of the hoax threats to the Twitter account of American Airlines read: "One of those lovely boeing airplanes has a nice tick tick tick in it, hurry gentlemen, the clock's ticking..."

He also carried out a series of online attacks - known as Distributed Denial of Service - in which a large amount of data is sent to a website over a short period of time causing the site to become overwhelmed and in some cases to temporarily crash. The sites targeted included those of Devon and Cornwall Police and SeaWorld in Florida.

Ben Samples, senior crown prosecutor for the South West said:

"The defendant knew what he was doing was wrong and deliberately targeted a number of websites causing them to crash temporarily. One of those websites was that of Devon and Cornwall Police, making it much harder for the public to access the help and support they needed.

"I hope this will send a message to anyone who thinks they can hide online or use social media to create a climate of fear that they will have to face the consequences of their actions."

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

Notes to Editors

  1. This young offender was convicted of five counts -
    • Section 3 Computer Misuse Act 1990 (Unauthorised acts with intent to impair operation of or prevent / hinder access to a computer) - three counts
    • Section 51 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (communicating a bomb hoax) - two counts
  2. The offences took place between October 2014 and February 2015 and the offender was arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police on 25 February 2015. The two hoax bomb threats were both made on 13th February 2015.They were to American Airlines and Delta Airlines.
  3. On Monday 26th January 2015 between 21.21hrs and 22.04hrs, a Distributed Denial of Service attack successfully targeted the Devon and Cornwall Police public website rendering it unavailable for 43 minutes.
  4. The offender cannot be named as he was under-16 when the offences took place.
  5. The hearing took place at Plymouth Youth Court on Tuesday 28th June 2016 before District Judge Baker when the offender pleaded guilty to three counts under the Computer Misuse Act. On Wednesday 6th July he was convicted on the remaining two counts of communicating a bomb hoax.
  6. Sentencing was adjourned to a later date pending the judge's request for reports on the offender.
  7. For further information please contact Yasser Mehmood in the CPS press office on 020 7147 7725.
  8. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  9. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk and visit our official News Brief - blog.cps.gov.uk
  10. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  11. At 31 March 2015 we employed a workforce of approximately 5,895 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2,255 prosecutors and 3,288 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk.
  12. The CPS, together with police representatives (formerly ACPO) and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.