A teenager has been sentenced to 16 months in a Young Offenders’ Institution for causing the public websites of Greater Manchester Police, Cheshire Police and Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to crash.
Liam Reece Watts, 18, pleaded guilty on 25 April 2019 at Chester Crown Court to two offences under the Computer Misuse Act following two separate incidents on 28 August 2018 and on 22 March 2019.
He was sentenced on 12 August 2019 to 16 months in total for the two offences. The Crown Prosecution Service also asked for a restraining order to be put in place that restricts the defendant’s ownership and use of computer equipment, storage and access to the internet for the
next five years. This was agreed by the court.
It is thought that Watts used software tools to overload the websites and cause a 24-hour malfunction which meant that the public could not access the sites to report minor crimes or contact officers.
He claimed responsibility for the attacks in a series of tweets under the identity “Synic”. The Twitter account was traced to Watts and he was arrested at his home in Chorley on 26 March 2019, four days after the Cheshire Police website attack.
Ursula Doyle, for the CPS, said: “Watts appears to have been motivated by revenge for a previous conviction, but, in fact, the people who were primarily inconvenienced were the thousands of members of the public who use the websites to contact police, or access the websites for help – that service was temporarily disabled.
“There is little doubt that Watts has considerable computer and IT skills and knowledge, but these were put to criminal use to damage and disable computer systems which are relied upon by the public for help, and by the police whose job it is to help them.”