back to article Ex-missile systems worker jailed for breaching Official Secrets Act after last-second guilty plea

The former BAE Systems worker accused of sending details of a UK missile system to hostile foreign powers and of ignoring police demands to hand over his device passwords, has been jailed. Simon Finch, formerly of Swansea, was handed a four-and-a-half year prison sentence on Tuesday at the Old Bailey after changing his pleas …

  1. Snorlax

    Somebody please tell me....

    ...why autism is often claimed to be a mitigating circumstance in cases like this?

    Seems offensive to those who have the disorder that it would be falsely cited as a reason for some dumbass disclosing State secrets...

    1. james_smith Silver badge

      Re: Somebody please tell me....

      As someone with Asperger's, this trend for claiming autism as a mitigation for doing something stupid is getting really tiring. In all the cases I've read it's an "undiagnosed" claim of autism by the defendant, which just smacks of an attempt to get sympathy where it's not deserved. Autism generally leads to a hyper rational mindset with a strong sense of right and wrong, not the kind of behaviour described in this case.

      1. osakajin Bronze badge

        Re: Somebody please tell me....

        Like Zuckerberg?

      2. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: Somebody please tell me....

        Strong sense of right and wrong, but only to one's own belief system.

        Which may differ quite greatly from the society around said person.

        1. james_smith Silver badge

          Re: Somebody please tell me....

          I can't comment on autism in general, but people with Asperger's are overwhelmingly atheist. Their moral beliefs are normally based on not doing others harm and expecting the same in return. Criminal behaviour is very low amongst those with Asperger's as compared to the overall populace. See books by the likes of Tony Attwood and Simon Baron-Cohen for coverage of this (yes, that's a cousin of Ali G / Borat, who is a leading authority on autism).

          1. Snorlax

            Re: Somebody please tell me....

            Criminal behaviour is very low amongst those with Asperger's as compared to the overall populace.

            ADHD is my thing. It's well-represented in prison populations - probably something to do with impulsive behaviour, and the likelihood of co-morbidity with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.

            1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

              Re: Somebody please tell me....

              “ADHD”

              What if you have Aspergers and ADHD

              1. Snorlax

                Re: Somebody please tell me....

                I’m not sure I understand the question. Was that an attempt at humour? Some people have both...it’s not an either/or situation.

                Whatever neurodevelopmental disorder you’ve got, whether it’s ADHD, autism or Aspergers, you’re not entitled to a “get out of jail free” card

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Somebody please tell me....

            While I have heard this claim trotted out before, I know several people with Asperger's and have had philosophical discussions with them -- and NONE of them claim to be atheists. Not all of them are active members of a church, or even believe in an afterlife, but even those that do not believe that there is a higher power of some sort.

            That isn't to say that none are atheists, but it seems likely that those who conducted those "studies" that reached that conclusion are predominately atheist and the studies suffer from confirmation bias.

      3. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Somebody please tell me....

        @jamessmith Unfortunately your view of autism is a quite a narrow one.

        My daughter (yes girls have it as well) has extremely violent meltdowns. During these periods she has zero self control and has no idea what she is doing. She has no problem smashing things up (including things very special to her) or attacking people. So I could easily see her getting into trouble at some point.

        Even when calm, she doesnt grasp people's emotions or undestand the circumstances, so if it makes no sense why something is illegal, then I'm her view, it isn't.

        But I agree, it is tiring seeing it as a defence, when they clearly don't suffer from it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          (yes girls have it as well)

          And some of them have children as well

          They tend to make fucking useless parents.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: (yes girls have it as well)

            You have proof of that, of course?

            [I'm well along the autism spectrum, I have young children - I know where my way of dealing with things might cause problems so I mitigate it. No one has any criticism of the way I bring up my children.]

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: (yes girls have it as well)

              Yes.

          2. Snorlax

            Re: (yes girls have it as well)

            It’s at times like this I wish The Reg allowed us to respond to comments with gifs.

            If they did I’d use this one for you, my anonymous friend:

            https://media1.giphy.com/media/d1E2qvruXFtGi6A0/giphy.gif

        2. james_smith Silver badge

          Re: Somebody please tell me....

          @IGotOut

          Good point about the meltdowns. They're common during childhood, but usually disappear after adolescence. I did have a co-worker who was much further "up the spectrum" than me, and he still had occasional meltdowns despite being in his twenties. I discovered this when he mentioned kicking a hole in the wall of his bedroom (he still lived with his parents, and I doubt he would cope will living independently, that's how extreme his Asperger's was). It was very interesting for me as someone also with Asperger's to watch his interactions with people, as it gave me some insight into how I behave as well.

        3. MrReynolds2U

          Re: Somebody please tell me....

          Unfortunately, when I was younger, people often got dismissed as disruptive, unwilling to learn or having an untested high/low IQ and slipped though the gaps. I know schools are much better equipped nowadays to identify those who need assessment and have special educational needs, however, once you are an adult, you are beyond all of those schemes.

          I know from experience (not myself) how difficult it can be to get assessed as an adult in the UK for the simple reason that the funding is not there for adult assessments.

          So e.g. if you slipped through the gaps 20-odd years ago, you can certainly have a form of autism but not a formal diagnosis.

          Given the court's rejection of his condition, I doubt he'll get the support he might actually need - if his claims are correct. That in itself does not justify his actions but what person in full control of their actions does what he did?

          1. Snorlax

            Re: Somebody please tell me....

            I know from experience (not myself) how difficult it can be to get assessed as an adult in the UK for the simple reason that the funding is not there for adult assessments.

            Too right. I was waiting for an ADHD assessment in the public system for nearly three years before I gave up and paid to get it done privately. Phoned the clinic on a Friday, had the assessment the next Wednesday.

            My advice to anybody waiting for an appointment on the NHS: beg, borrow or steal (ok, don't steal) the money to get an assessment done privately.

            Given the court's rejection of his condition, I doubt he'll get the support he might actually need - if his claims are correct.

            He was picked up previously for having a hammer and a machete in a public place, so he might have mental health issues but I don't think autism's his problem. If his legal team thought he had autism, they would have had him assessed before trial..

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too funny

    “duress of circumstances” defence . amusing,. like asking the judge for leniency for killing you parents because your an orphan.

  3. LucasNorth

    Muppet would have got 1/3 off his sentence if he’d pleaded guilty and not had to waste his time in court, is there a more boring the place in the entire world than a court room?

    1. Snorlax

      "..is there a more boring the place in the entire world than a court room?"

      I think the administration of justice in court is fascinating. Maybe I need to get out more :D

      Sometimes you wonder "What was the defendant thinking?, other times it's "What was the judge thinking?"

    2. iron Silver badge

      > is there a more boring the place in the entire world than a court room?

      A jail cell.

      1. LucasNorth

        as someone who has been in both I can tell you that you are 100% wrong. Nothing like a stretch where you can read books all day instead of listening to months of legal drivel

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Fascinating Justice Administration .....

    Sometimes you wonder "What was the defendant thinking?, other times it's "What was the judge thinking?" .... Snorlax

    El Reg does itself proud with a well reported tale on the thinking and decision of two judges here ...... https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/13/encrochat_hack_judicial_review_judgment/ ....... and which rather than being of a definitive black or white appears to be of a very murky shade of ambiguous grey?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fascinating Justice Administration .....

      That was very considerate of you to add a target=_blank to your hyperlink, thanks!

      1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating Justice Administration .....

        Why on earth were you downvoted for this thankful comment?

  5. Mr Dogshit

    Fuckwit

    If you can't keep a secret, perhaps a career in defence isn't for you.

    1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: Fuckwit

      How many Amazon buckets?

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Nobody commented on the best quote?

    "He is also subject to a five-year serious crime prevention order "

    WTF is that?

    Do burglars get a "don't break the no burgling law for five years" or naughty bankers get a 'don't break no fraud laws for five years'? Why does he get a 'don't break any serious laws for five years'?

    That is certainly the wierdest 'order' I've ever heard.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Nobody commented on the best quote?

      Schedule 1, as amended by Section 47 of the SCA 2015 and Schedule 5, of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 7) sets out an extensive list of offences under 15 headings.

      Drug trafficking

      Slavery

      People trafficking; (Amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2010, Schedule 9, paragraph 142)

      Firearms offences

      Prostitution and child sex

      Armed robbery etc.

      Money laundering

      Fraud

      Offences in relation to public revenue (amended by Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010, Schedule 7, paragraph 101(2))

      Bribery (Amended by the Bribery Act 2010, Schedule 1, paragraph 14)

      Counterfeiting

      Blackmail;

      Computer misuse

      Environment (as amended by Schedule 22 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, Part 5, B)

      Organised Crime

    2. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: Nobody commented on the best quote?

      There are unicorns also in their corporate logos, I think we know what world they live in

  7. macjules Silver badge

    Mrs Justice Whipple

    I suspect that someone in the Lord Chancellor's department promotes barristers to the bench based upon their names. Very Joesph Heller.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Mrs Justice Whipple

      "Justice" isn't their name, it's an honorific for rank. Her name is P̶h̶i̶l̶i̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶W̶h̶i̶p̶p̶a̶ Philippa Whipple.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    parts is parts

    Sometimes parts of the machine cannot handle the stress and must be replaced with a component re-engineered for the task.

    Keeping the machine running is the most important thing. Parts will always break and be replaced, it's to be expected.

    Don't let the screams from the machine bother you, once we get it sorted out, all will be quiet.

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