Community work for Dunedin hacker

A computer hacker who caused major disruption to the Bayfield High School website last year had already done the same thing to the Methodist Mission website but was now "hoping to use his talent for good'', the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.

Bayfield High School ex-pupil Jake Scott Gibbons (19), of Dunedin, admitted last November intentionally, and without authority, causing the high school's computer system to fail between February 27 and March 8 last year.

He also admitted an unrelated charge of intentionally damaging a door and a window on November 10.

When he appeared for sentence yesterday, Gibbons was facing two additional charges, one of which involved unlawfully causing the Methodist Mission website to fail in November 2012.

Prosecutor Acting Sergeant Kate Saxton said the defendant, in 2012, was a student at Approach, which was part of the Methodist Mission. On November 7 that year, he used his home computer to initiate a denial of service (DOS) attack on the Methodist Mission website.

Two days later, the speed of the internet was noticed to have slowed and during the next week the website was either not responsive or severely compromised.

The database administrator and others spent 35 hours working on the DOS attack, the cost to the Methodist Mission being over $2000, Acting Sgt Saxton said.

When the attack was eventually traced to him, Gibbons admitted responsibility but said he did not think it would have been successful.

As well as the Methodist Mission website charge, he yesterday admitted a Crimes Act assault on security guard Jamie Spurr at the Andersons Bay Rd McDonald's Family Restaurant on January 11.

Gibbons became angry and abusive when Mr Spurr refused to allow him in because he was intoxicated, Acting Sgt Saxton said. His friends removed him but he later returned, smashed a bottle on the ground then threw another bottle towards the guard, hitting him above the eye.

As a result, Mr Spurr sustained a cut and a graze around the eye, as well as some swelling and bruising. Because he could not work the next day, he lost $162.10 of his wages as a casual employee.

Public defender Andrew Dawson said the role of alcohol in the defendant's life should be examined.

There was clearly a link between alcohol and the recent assault, Mr Dawson said.

But Gibbons had attended a restorative justice conference with the Bayfield High School people which was positive. He was also enrolling in an IT course and was "hoping to use his talent for good''.

Judge Dominic Flatley told Gibbons interfering with computer systems was "a serious matter''.

"You caused a lot of people a lot of anxiety to rectify the problems caused by you.''

And the judge said he was pleased to hear the defendant was going to enrol in an IT course.

"You obviously have skills but you need to use them positively, not negatively,'' he said.

He warned Gibbons there had to be "a turning point''.

"Any more of this sort of offending and you are going to get yourself into serious trouble,'' the judge said.

On each charge, he sentenced Gibbons to concurrent terms of 150 hours' community work and nine months' supervision, with drug and alcohol counselling and therapeutic interventions as directed and any other counselling and treatment as directed.

Gibbons was also ordered to pay reparation of $1000 each to the Methodist Mission and Bayfield High School and $162.10 to Mr Spurr.