Teenage Adelaide computer hacker, already facing 10 years’ jail, now a suspect in other crimes, court told

AN Adelaide teenager already facing a maximum 10-year jail term for hacking three secure websites is now a suspect in other acts of cybercrime, a court has heard.

The case against the boy, 15, of Woodcroft, was expected to resolve by way of plea bargain in the Christies Beach Youth Court on Thursday.

Instead, Brevet Sergeant Kimberly White, for SA Police, asked it be adjourned while detectives conducted a further investigation of the boy’s alleged online activities.

“There are some other matters that detectives are investigating at the moment, and they may potentially lead to further charges being filed,” she said.

“The defendant is not here … his counsel assures me he is willing to attend court, but I ask the court to issue an arrest warrant to activate (if he does not attend) on the next occasion.”

The boy, who cannot be identified under South Australian law, has yet to plead to three counts of unauthorised impairment of computer systems.

Under the terms of his bail, he is banned from using the internet for any reason — if convicted, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term.

Police have alleged the offences occurred at Reynella on March 10, and at Woodcroft on April 4 and 6 this year.

Court documents allege he “directly caused an unauthorised impairment of electronic communications, knowing the impairment was unauthorised, and caused inconvenience”.

The boy’s arrest followed a two-week battle by Adelaide-based internet service provider NuSkope to defend itself, Reynella East College and a government agency from attack.

The government agency has not been named in court.

It is alleged the incident was one of Australia’s largest-ever denial of service attacks — a type of hacking in which a targeted website is flooded with data requests, causing it to crash.

A well-known example of such an attack occurred in 2008, when the hacker group Anonymous shut down the Church of Scientology’s website as part of a global protest campaign.

It is alleged around 10,000 NuSkope customers were affected by the incident, but the boy has insisted he meant no harm and staged the attack “simply to see if he could”.

Last month, James Caldicott, for the boy, said he expected the case to resolve “in the near future”.

On Thursday, Brevet Sergeant White said she had spoken to Mr Caldicott about the change in circumstances.

“There is a need for the prosecution to have time to investigate these further matters,” she said.

“He asked that he and his client’s attendance be excused … I don’t oppose that, but I ask for the warrant.”

Magistrate Kym Boxall declined, saying the boy’s bail conditions were sufficient, and adjourned the case until August.

An SA Police spokeswoman told The Advertiser she could not comment on the new allegations.

“As a matter of normal policy, SA Police don’t provide details about active investigations and nor do we comment about matters before the courts,” she said.


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