Microsoft hacker avoids jail over multiple cyber-attacks

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The 24-year-old was also charged with refusing to disclose passwords for his laptop, hard drives and an iPhone on dates between December 2017 and June 2020.

The court heard he was linked to the charges through communications, activity on his devices and by a forensic speech investigator who could connect him to YouTube videos.

Judge Roseanne McCormick KC said an aggravating factor in the case was that the majority of offences were committed while the defendant was on bail for a similar incident.

In 2015, when he was just 15, Aaron Sterritt was arrested for his role in the hacking of telecom giant TalkTalk.

The fallout from the attack cost the company £77m.

A pre-sentencing report outlined how Sterritt was diagnosed with ADHD and autism as a child and faced challenges in his home life.

The court heard that he has a low likelihood of re-offending and had completed a cyber-awareness programme.

Judge McCormick KC said she was “mindful of the fact this is a young offender with specific challenges in his life.

“And mindful that most were committed when he was a child”.

She also took into account that the case had taken a long time to come before the court and that the defendant used that time to “better himself”.

Judge McCormick said the offences were “hugely harmful” and “easily passed the custody threshold”.

But there were exceptional circumstances – his guilty pleas, the time the case has been “hanging over his head” and his low chance of re-offending lead her to suspend the sentence.

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