back to article Bomb-hoaxing DoSer who targeted police in revenge was caught after Twitter taunts

A young man who DoSed two British police forces' websites has been sentenced to 16 months in a young offenders' institution. Liam Reece Watts was jailed at Chester Crown Court earlier this week after DoSing Cheshire Police and Greater Manchester Police's public-facing websites as revenge for being convicted of carrying out a …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Not a Great Start in Life.

    Hope he gets the help he needs.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: Not a Great Start in Life.

      Thank you for making my day with such a balanced post, rather than the small minded posts below. A virtual fermented beverage for you.

      1. Paul 195

        Re: Not a Great Start in Life.

        And of course, the small minded have downvoted your post, and the admirable post you replied to. And no doubt, this post as well.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not a Great Start in Life.

      He's not going to get it in prison, All that will achieve is to make him a hardened sociopath with contacts who will be eager to exploit him when he gets out and some training in how to be less detectable.

      That's not so much speculation as observation over the last 25-30 years of the various miscreants who've failed to outgrown script kiddydom by 14-15 and subsequently found themselves increasingly on the wrong side of the law.

      More appropriate would be detention in a mental health facility. They have training in dealing with sociopaths, including determining when they're safe to interact with society - but he's going to need close monitoring for the rest of his life as anything might set him off in future.

      Does the future hold a world where certain individuals wander around with "Poor impulse control" tattooed on their foreheads as a warning to the innocent?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder

    Pissed out of his skull, and dumb as fuck.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder

      No. It means damage to the development of the brain caused by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy (particularly dangerous at the early stages).

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder

        "Pissed out of his skull, and dumb as fuck."

        Unfortunately for this guy, he's dumb as fuck because his mum was pissed out of her skull. Sad to see.

        And yes, twittering about your crimes IS dumb as fuck, although he seems to have been smart enough to execute the DoS without getting caught

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder

      One of his tweets reportedly said: "@Cheshirepolice want to send me to prison for a bomb hoax I never did

      The police don't really need to trace Twitter to find out the identify. This "boast" is more than enough.

      A wanna-be criminal with a big mouth to boot. Yup, one good combination indeed.

  3. pogul

    > Ursula Doyle, a specialist c prosecutor

    Come on, I know people are sometimes a little sloppy with those pointers, but....

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      I am scratching my head for more than 3 hours now, but fail to get it. Can anyone help me?

      Me, apparently ------------>

      1. Cxwf

        He’s making fun of a typo (now fixed in the current version of the article) where “crown prosecutor” was written as “c prosecutor” instead. Since “c prosecutor” doesn’t have an established definition, he made a joke about pointer abuse, which is a common issue with poorly written C language coding.

        There - have I thoroughly sucked all the fun out of the joke yet?

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          Thanks for the explanation ------>

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That is all. Enjoy your day everyone.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably boasting that he was convicted of a bomb hoax narrowed the search results down a bit when they went looking for him?

    But, I'm a bit confused about the judgement.....

    "restraining order to stop him from deleting his browsing history and to allow police to trawl through it on demand, and forfeited his computers for destruction"

    The latter does not seem to be compatible with the former........

    1. Anomalous Custard

      I translated it as "Current computer(s) must be turned over for destruction. No restrictions on buying a new computer, but browsing history on any new computer(s) must be kept". As otherwise, as you say, it makes no sense.

      1. Steve Button

        Seems pretty clear to me, when he gets a new computer he's not allowed to delete the browsing history. My first thought was, what if the thing starts running slow? Not that he'll need a computer as he'll probably struggle to work in Starbucks after this.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Being litteral about it

        "must not delete" is not the same as "must be kept". Lynx does keep track of browser history in non-volatile storage. He may not be able to exit lynx but one power cut and the data is gone. Same trick with any browser on a Linux live dvd.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Being litteral about it

          They don't specify how it is to be kept but they might ask him to write it down on paper.

        2. keithpeter Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Being litteral about it

          Same thought here together with shell account and lynx on the remote session.

          Perhaps just a special Her Majesty's Proxy for people who need supervision like this would be better? Free internet but We Are Watching...

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Being litteral about it

          Same trick with any browser on a Linux live dvd.

          Was he clever enough to use Linux?

        4. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Being litteral about it

          In his situation, trying to be clever will likely not go down well if the police for any reason want to see his browser history.

      3. e^iπ+1=0

        browsing history on any new computer(s) must be kept

        How easy is that to police?

        If he selectively deleted individual history elements would they spot it?

        I take it to mean "don't clear history".

        What about private browser sessions, multiple browsers and so on?

  6. JassMan Silver badge

    " He was also handed a victim surcharge tax of £140."

    So like they are going to pay 7p to everybody who didn't manage to see the site during the DoS attack even though they don't know who they were. Or does it just go into the policeman's Benevolent Fund to pay for a round of drinks at Xmas?

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: " He was also handed a victim surcharge tax of £140."

      If it helps you feel any better even magistrates deeply dislike that farcical charge.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: " He was also handed a victim surcharge tax of £140."

        "And, BTW, it's not a tax. It's a surcharge. The clue is in the name."

        surcharge (n): an additional charge or payment.

        tax (n): a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.

        No, I'm struggling to see how it's not a tax. You know, like Value Added Surcharge.

        Edit: at least in this case there are victims. Who exactly are the victims when people are charged this tax on a speeding fine?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: " He was also handed a victim surcharge tax of £140."

          One could argue that a tax is a surcharge, but a surcharge is not a tax.

          1. david 12

            Re: " He was also handed a victim surcharge tax of £140."

            Adding it "on top" or "after" doesn't make it not a tax. Lot's of taxes are added "on top" or "after". Income tax is not typically a surcharge: in many countries stamp taxes are a surcharge.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does 19 equal "young offender"?

    I thought a "young offender" was a minor. 19 is not a minor. (They may FEEL like one to those of us Older Than Dirt, but the law considers anyone 18 or more as a legal adult.) So why was he not prosecuted as an adult for crimes committed while old enough to qualify as one?

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: How does 19 equal "young offender"?

      If it is anything like in Germany, then there is an age range (18-21 here) where you are not quite treated as an adult. So your "young offender" would be a "Heranwachsender [offender]" where I am.

      I consider this an intelligent thing in jurisdiction.

      1. Vometia Munro

        Re: How does 19 equal "young offender"?

        AFAIK many/most/all "young offenders institutions" are just a regular prison anyway, not even with a designated wing. But it sounds better in press releases.

    2. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: How does 19 equal "young offender"?

      I think in the UK one only qualifies as an adult at 21 in certain respects: possibly drive an hgv or bus; go to prison nowadays.

      There used to be more things you had to wait for being 21 to do - like being 'allowed' to be gay if the lyrics of that old Tom Robinson track were correct and you were happy that way.

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Just like a lot of criminals he never really thought about the consequences of boasting about what he had done, even if he had used a VPN to post on Twitter the fact he said he was doing it as revenge for being arrested for the bomb hoax probably meant there was a handful of people it could have been. So a quick warrant to seize his computer probably revealed all the evidence need to know it was him.

    As for being required to keep his browser history, this sounds like a law that has been written by someone who doesn't understand computer related crime. There is more to the internet than browsers. He wouldn't be breaching the restraining order if he were connecting to servers using RDP, SSH etc which don't use a browser to run more DDOS attacks.

    1. Vometia Munro

      Having followed a couple of interesting (to me) court cases I have to wonder if there was conclusive evidence that he was the culprit or simply that he was careless/daft/naïve enough for them to be able to make mud stick. I'm certainly not going to stick up for someone who actually and knowingly did something wrong, but the courts do seem to have a bit of a problem with going after easy targets rather than actual culprits, since the latter tend to be too much like hard work.

  9. cantankerous swineherd

    hooray for social media, the greatest aid to detection ever invented

  10. SWCD

    Strange world

    ..we live in re: sentences, but suppose that's well known.

    One example from another open tab: "Dog suffered a slow and painful death after she was beaten, poisoned and stabbed by owners during three days of abuse" - Sentence 10 weeks

    This guy 16 months, for erm, making a couple of police websites unavailable.

    I'd flip the sentences around quite happily, and still increase the dog abuse one.

    Ursula Doyle reckons thousands of people affected, but I'd bet it was barely outside double digits.

    Cheshire's site appears to be on Cloudflare now, which common sense step presumably came after this crime of the century?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Strange world

      You need to remember that there's a lot more to sentencing than meets the eye. Obviously you also get inconsistency between different judges. But still better that than giving them no discretion, or even worse things like 3 strikes and you get life policies.

      In his case he had previous convictions - for the bomb hoax and (an unspecified by the article) previous breach of the Computer Misuse act. That'll add some time. Sometimes quite a lot, in that judges can be very lenient for first offences.

      But also another aggravating factor will have been that this offence was a direct response to his sentence for a previous crime (the hoax bomb threat). And that sort of thing really pisses off judges. So I suspect a point was being made.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Strange world

        "unspecified by the article"

        He's got previous for DDoS attacks against his school. That's been published in other outlets.

        All in all, this is a seriously disturbed young man with a huge range of issues. An ordinary prison (or a youth offenders' institute) is not where he's going to get the treatment he needs - and which SOCIETY needs, to ensure he's not going to be a walking timebomb when he's released.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thousands of members of the public who use the websites to contact police

    and ran away in horror :(

  12. Trev 2

    Erm, incognito mode?

    Not allowed to delete browser history, so what if the computer does it via one of the browser privacy modes? Don't these judges abuse their computers with Xhampster!?

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