Conditional Discharge for “computer misuse” – Richard Dawson defending

Philip Wright-Christie pleaded guilty to “doing an unauthorised act, being reckless as to whether the act would enable the operation of a computer to be impaired”.

Mr Wright-Christie deliberately uploaded crypto-currency mining software to computers at his place of work. He knew he shouldn’t have done so and knew he did not have the authority to do so. By doing so, he was reckless as to the consequences and reckless as to whether those work computers – or the computers of others – might be impaired.

The case, having been adjourned for a trial of issue (to determine the correct factual basis on which to pass sentence), was ultimately agreed between the parties and the Court.

The Court was persuaded that, rather than this being an example of “hacking” (an attack against the computer systems), Mr Wright-Christie was really nothing more harmless than a computer geek who, given its prevalence, had developed an interest in crypto-currency. His use of mining software in the context of the case was simply an example of him exploring his general interest – his curiosity having got the better of him. He uploaded the software simply to play around with it, to see how it would work in practice.

In circumstances where he did not intend to mine crypto-currency (in this instance, Monero) and did not profit from any such mining, the Court was persuaded to draw back from more punitive sanctions and to conditionally discharge for 12 months.

Richard Dawson was instructed by Cunninghams Solicitors.

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