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Assembly hacker had mocked up tickets for city parking; IT WHIZZ- KID HAS SENTENCE SHORTENED BY APPEAL COURT.


A COMPUTER hacker mocked up fake parking tickets for himself and his pals while working at the National Assembly, a court heard yesterday.

During a six-month spell working at the Assembly last year, IT whizz-kid Oliver Baker produced fake pay-and-display tickets which allowed his colleagues and friends free parking in Cardiff city centre.

After losing his job for the scam, 28-year-old Baker then hacked into the Assembly's computer system and locked one of its security bosses out of the network, London's Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Baker, of Palace Road, Cardiff, was jailed for eight months at Cardiff Crown Court last month after he admitted supplying and possessing an article for use in fraud and securing unauthorised access to computer material.

But, after Baker challenged the length of his prison stretch at the Appeal Court, two senior judges yesterday cut his sentence in half, meaning he will be released in the next couple of weeks.

Mr Justice Foskett, sitting with Mr Justice Henriques, told the court Baker worked for IT contractor Siemens at the Assembly between September 2009 and April 2010.

But, while completing the contract, Baker got his hands on a blank parking ticket which, using his computer skills, he managed to reproduce.

The judge said parking wardens and police spotted a number of his counterfeit slips around the city centre, though how many bogus tickets escaped detection is not known.

Baker was dismissed by Siemens in June last year after an anonymous letter was sent to police and when officers examined his computer they found fake pounds 3 pay and display tickets dated throughout the six-month period.

The court heard that, angered by his dismissal, Baker then hacked into the computer of a member of the Assembly's security staff to see if he was mentioned on any e-mails.

The judge said Baker changed the password on the worker's account, preventing him from accessing the system.

Siemens said they needed to hire more than a dozen highly-trained staff to check the system, costing an estimated pounds 300,000, but this was disputed by Baker.

Baker's lawyers told the Appeal Court the eight-month prison term was too long considering he had never been in trouble before and admitted his guilt to the police.

Mr Justice Henriques bemoaned the fact that Baker was an "intelligent man" who "but for this would have had a very good job for the rest of his life".

Branding the case "very unusual", Mr Justice Foskett said computer hacking undermined public confidence and "people need to understand that the confidentiality of computer systems needs to be preserved".

However, he told the court that, had it not been for continued hacking after his dismissal, Baker might have got away with a caution for the ticket scam.

He said: "Even if this matter had proceeded to court, as a first time offender the applicant could have been dealt with by a suspended sentence or a community penalty."

The judges ruled that, even considering the later hacking offence, the overall sentence was too long.


* Oliver Baker produced fake parking tickets PICTURE: Ron Norman [umlaut]
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 24, 2011
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