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   Pad gasped in horror. A quarter of a million pounds? He thought back

   to his many forays into the system. He had been a little mischievous,

   changing the welcome message to `Hi' and signing it 8lgm. He had made

   a few accounts for himself so he could log in at a later date. That

   seemed to be nothing special, however, since he and Gandalf had a

   habit of making accounts called 8lgm for themselves in JANET systems.

   He had also erased logs of his activities to cover his tracks, but

   again, this was not unusual, and he had certainly never deleted any

   computer users' files. The whole thing had just been a bit of fun, a

   bit of cat and mouse gaming with the system admins. There was nothing

   he could recall which would account for that kind of damage. Surely

   they had the wrong hacker?


   No, he was the right one all right. Eighty investigators from BT,

   Scotland Yard and other places had been chasing the 8lgm hackers for

   two years. They had phone traces, logs seized from his computer and

   logs from the hacked sites. They knew it was him.


   For the first time, the true gravity of the situation hit Pad. These

   people believed in some way that he had committed serious criminal

   damage, that he had even been malicious.


   After about two hours of questioning, they put Pad back in his cell.

   More questions tomorrow, they told him.


   Later that afternoon, an officer came in to tell Pad his mother and

   father were outside. He could meet with them in the visiting area.

   Talking through a glass barrier, Pad tried to reassure his worried

   parents. After five minutes, an officer told the family the visit was

   over. Amid hurried goodbyes under the impatient stare of the guard,

   Pad's parents told him they had brought something for him to read in

   his cell. It was the oceanography textbook.


   Back in his cell, he tried to read, but he couldn't concentrate. He

   kept replaying his visits to the London Polytechnic over and over in

   his mind, searching for how he might have inadvertently done

   [sterling]250000 worth of damage. Pad was a very good hacker; it

   wasn't as if he was some fourteen-year-old kid barging through systems

   like a bull in china shop. He knew how to get in and out of a system

   without hurting it.


   Shortly after 8 p.m., as Pad sat on his cot stewing over the police

   damage claims, sombre music seemed to fill his cell. Slowly at first,

   an almost imperceptible moaning, which subtly transformed into solemn

   but recognisable notes. It sounded like Welsh choir music, and it was

   coming from above him.


   Pad looked up at the ceiling. The music--all male voices-- stopped

   abruptly, then started again, repeating the same heavy, laboured

   notes. The hacker smiled. The local police choir was practising right

   above his cell.


   After another fitful night, Pad faced one more round of interviews.

   The police did most of the questioning, but they didn't seem to know

   much about computers--well, not nearly so much as any good hacker on

   Altos. Whenever either of the police asked a technical question, they

   looked over to the BT guy at the other end of the table as if to say,

   `Does this make any sense?' The BT guy would give a slight nod, then

   the police looked back at Pad for an answer. Most of the time, he was