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   At home over the next few weeks, Electron struggled to come to terms

   with the fact that he would have to give up hacking forever. He still

   had his modem, but no computer. Even if he had a machine, he realised

   it was far too dangerous to even contemplate hacking again.

  

   So he took up drugs instead.

 

                            [ ]

  

   Electron's father waited until the very last days of his illness, in

   March 1991, before he went into hospital. He knew that once he went

   in, he would not be coming out again.

  

   There was so much to do before that trip, so many things to organise.

   The house, the life insurance paperwork, the will, the funeral, the

   instructions for the family friend who promised to watch over both

   children when he was gone. And, of course, the children themselves.

  

   He looked at his two children and worried. Despite their ages of 21

   and 19, they were in many ways still very sheltered. He realised that

   Electron's anti-establishment attitude and his sister's emotional

   remoteness would remain unresolved difficulties at the time of his

   death. As the cancer progressed, Electron's father tried to tell both

   children how much he cared for them. He might have been somewhat

   emotionally remote himself in the past, but with so little time left,

   he wanted to set the record straight.

  

   On the issue of Electron's problems with the police, however,

   Electron's father maintained a hands-off approach. Electron had only

   talked to his father about his hacking exploits occasionally, usually

   when he had achieved what he considered to be a very noteworthy hack.

   His father's view was always the same. Hacking is illegal, he told his

   son, and the police will probably eventually catch you. Then you will

   have to deal with the problem yourself. He didn't lecture his son, or

   forbid Electron from hacking. On this issue he considered his son old

   enough to make his own choices and live with the consequences.

  

   True to his word, Electron's father had shown little sympathy for his

   son's legal predicament after the police raid. He remained neutral on

   the subject, saying only, `I told you something like this would happen

   and now it is your responsibility'.

  

   Electron's hacking case progressed slowly over the year, as did his

   university accounting studies. In March 1991, he faced committal

   proceedings and had to decide whether to fight his committal.

  

   He faced fifteen charges, most of which were for obtaining

   unauthorised access to computers in the US and Australia. A few were

   aggravated offences, for obtaining access to data of a commercial

   nature. On one count each, the DPP (the Office of the Commonwealth

   Director of Public Prosecutions) said he altered and erased data.

   Those two counts were the result of his inserting backdoors for

   himself, not because he did damage to any files. The evidence was

   reasonably strong: telephone intercepts and datataps on Phoenix's

   phone which showed him talking to Electron about hacking; logs of

   Electron's own sessions in Melbourne University's systems which were

   traced back to his home phone; and Electron's own confession to the

   police.

  

   This was the first major computer hacking case in Australia under the