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Hartlepool man played a lesser role in the conspiracy
6:47pm Thursday 24th January 2013 in News
A NORTH-EAST man has been sentenced for his part in carrying out cyber attacks with a hacking group.
Peter Gibson, 24, of Castletown Road, Hartlepool, was given a six-month suspended sentence after he was judged to have played a lesser role in the conspiracy.
Christopher Weatherhead, 22, of Holly Road, Northampton, was given an 18-month sentence at Southwark Crown Court, London, after being found guilty of conspiring to impair the operation of computers between August 1, 2010 and January 22, 2011.
Ashley Rhodes, 28, of Bolton Crescent, Camberwell, south London, admitted the same charge and was jailed for seven months.
Jake Birchall, 18, from Chester, will be sentenced later. He had also admitted the conspiracy.
The websites that fell victim to the cyber attacks were chosen by the group, called Anonymous, because the hackers did not agree with their views.
The attacks paralysed computer systems by flooding them with a huge number of online requests.
Online payment website PayPal was targeted, at a cost to the company of 3.5m. Others hit by the attacks included Mastercard and Visa.
Anonymous initially targeted companies involved in anti-piracy and digital rights, then shifted their attention to payment sites which would not process donations to the Wau Holland Foundation, which is involved in raising funds for WikiLeaks.
Judge Peter Testar, who described the attacks as "intolerable" said: "The purpose was not commercial. It was activity by way of protest."
At one point Gibson suggested the website of singer Lily Allen as a possible target to Rhodes, who agreed with the idea. However, the attack never went ahead.
Judge Testar told the court the group got themselves into an "ideological twizzle", adding: "On one hand, they wanted to attack her because she had taken a stand against breach of copyright.
"But on the other hand, they didn't like the idea of attacking artists."
Gibson, who was not involved in the MasterCard, Visa or PayPal attacks, was ordered to carry out 100 hours community service as part of his sentence.
He was involved in the hacking for a shorter time than the others and left the group when he realised they intended to cause financial damage.
A York University graduate who achieved 14 GCSEs and 3 A-levels at high grades, Gibson was described as being "remorseful".