The family of a 15-year-old alleged hacker accused of involvement in a huge cyber attack on TalkTalk feel like prisoners in their homes, it was claimed yesterday.
The video-game loving boy was arrested in connection with one of the largest cyber attacks in UK history.
The baby-faced teen, whom we have chosen not to name, from Ballymena, Co Antrim, was detained at his home on Monday afternoon following a police raid. He was released on bail the following day.
Family members were yesterday still struggling to come to terms with the shock arrest of the reclusive teen who has written online about his love for violent video games Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. It is understood extended family members knew nothing about the arrest until they read media reports.
They have been thrust under the spotlight, with the family and the alleged cyber criminal making headlines around the world.
“They are devastated and feel like prisoners with all the attention.
“They don’t want to leave their homes.”
Curtains remained drawn at the boy’s Ballymena home and those of his father and other family members throughout yesterday.
It is understood his dad split with the teen’s mum about 10 years ago and he sees his son every fortnight.
The boy’s dad lives roughly 70 miles away from his former Ballymena home.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said the family was feeling the strain of the attention since news of the arrest broke.
He said: “I have spoken with the mother of the teenager arrested and bailed in relation to the TalkTalk case. The family are trying to come to terms with this situation and although they appreciate the wide public and press interest in this matter, can I appeal for the press to cease contacting the family at their home.
“They cannot comment publicly and the teenager in question cannot make any public comments. I would appeal to the press to respect the family’s request for privacy and allow the process of law and order to run its course.”
The investigation is being headed up by the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit along with officers from the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre and National Crime Agency.
Neighbours said about six police vehicles swooped on the boy’s mother’s terraced property on Monday, detaining the skateboard-loving teen before searching his home.
Meanwhile, a Northern Irish expert in online crime has warned the TalkTalk hack could open up avenues for other criminals.
Jonathan Burke, Director of criminal law at McConnell Kelly solicitors, claimed the crisis not only offered the potential for the original hackers to get bank details, but also paved the way for others.
The leading lawyer and e-crime expert said: “Thousands of TalkTalk’s customers across Northern Ireland face an anxious wait following Thursday’s cyber-attack in which personal data has been compromised, including names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and banking details.”