Case of Essex Hacking Accused Heard

The case of two teenagers, including one from Essex, accused of hacking into websites including that of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency has been heard in court.

Ryan Cleary from Wickford in Essex, 19, and Jake Davis, 18, from the Shetland Islands, were not at Southwark Crown Court for the short hearing, but it is understood to be the first time their cases have been grouped together.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said they will both need to appear at the court for a plea and case management on January 27, next year.

Cleary, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome since he was arrested at his family home on Monday June 20, is charged with conspiring with other people on or before that date to create a remotely-controlled network of zombie computers, known as a "botnet'', which crashes websites.

He is also alleged to have carried out attacks on or before June 20 against Soca, the British Phonographic Industry's website, and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's website, and with making, adapting or supplying a botnet for a DDos attack.

He was given bail earlier on condition that he does not access the internet or have in his possession any device that could access the web. The alleged hacker was told he is to live and sleep at his address, and not leave the house other than in the company of his mother Rita Cleary. Judge Loraine-Smith said that the prosecution case papers should be served to the court on December 16.

Davis, from the Shetland Islands, was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police's e-crime unit as part of an investigation into hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous. He is said to use the online nickname "Topiary'' and present himself as a spokesman for the two groups.

The teenager faces five charges, including conspiring to carry out a distributed denial of service (DDos) attack on the police agency. Such attacks see websites flooded with traffic to make them crash. Davis is also charged with gaining unauthorised access to a computer system, encouraging or assisting offences, and with two counts of conspiracy to commit offences. LulzSec has also been linked to hacking attempts on the NHS, Sony, and the Sun newspaper.

At a hearing earlier this month, the teenager was bailed to an address in Spalding, Lincolnshire, where his mother lives. The judge imposed a curfew from 10pm to 7am, ordering Davis to wear an electronic tag.

He was also told he was not allowed to access the internet through a computer or mobile phone, either himself or by asking someone to do it for him.