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Teenager pleads guilty to causing police websites to crash

|News, Cyber / online crime

A teenager has pleaded guilty to causing the public websites of Greater Manchester Police, Cheshire Police and Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to crash.

Liam Reece Watts, 18, was charged with two offences under the Computer Misuse Act following two separate incidents on 28 August 2018 and 22 March 2019.

He pleaded guilty to both at a Pre-Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH) on 25 April at Chester Crown Court. He will be sentenced on 28 June 2019.

It is thought that Watts used software tools to overload the websites and cause a 24-hour malfunction which meant that the public could not access the sites or report minor crimes and contact officers.

He claimed responsibility for the attacks in a series of tweets under the identity 'Synic'. The Twitter account was traced to Watts and he was arrested at his home in Chorley on 26 March 2019, four days after the Cheshire Police website attack.

Ursula Doyle of the CPS said: “Watts appears to have been motivated by revenge for a previous conviction, but, in fact the people who were primarily inconvenienced were the thousands of members of the public who use the websites to contact police, or access the websites for help: that service was temporarily disabled.

“There is little doubt that Watts has considerable computer and IT skills and knowledge, but these were put to criminal use to damage and disable computer systems which are relied upon by the public for help, and by the police whose job it is to help them.”

Notes to editors

  • Ursula Doyle is a Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire.

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