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   no different legal status from a normal trial, the term state trial

   suggested a greater degree of official wrath--the kind usually

   reserved for cases of treason.

  

   On 22 February 1993, within two months of Electron's decision to turn

   Crown witness against Phoenix and Nom, the three 8lgm hackers stood in

   the dock at Southwark Crown Court in South London to enter pleas in

   their own case.

  

   In the dim winter light, Southwark couldn't look less appealing, but

   that didn't deter the crowds. The courtroom was going to be packed,

   just as Bow Street had been. Scotland Yard detectives were turning out

   in force. The crowd shuffled toward Room 12.

  

   The prosecution told the media they had about 800 computer disks full

   of evidence and court materials. If all the data had been printed out

   on A4 paper, the stack would tower more than 40 metres in the air,

   they said. Considering the massive amount of evidence being heaved,

   rolled and tugged through the building by teams of legal eagles, the

   choice of location--on the fifth floor--proved to be a challenge.

  

   Standing in the dock next to Wandii, Pad and Gandalf pleaded guilty to

   two computer conspiracy charges: conspiring to dishonestly obtain

   telecommunications services, and conspiring to cause unauthorised

   modification to computer material. Pad also pleaded guilty to a third

   charge: causing damage to a computer. This last charge related to the

   almost a quarter of

   a million pounds worth of `damage' to the Central London Polytechnic.

   Unlike the Australians' case, none of the British hackers faced

   charges about specific sites such as NASA.

   

   Pad and Gandalf pleaded guilty because they didn't think they had much

   choice. Their lawyers told them that, in light of the evidence,

   denying their guilt was simply not a realistic option. Better to throw

   yourself on the mercy of the court, they advised. As if to underline

   the point, Gandalf's lawyer had told him after a meeting at the end of

   1992, `I'd like to wish you a happy Christmas, but I don't think it's

   going to be one'.

  

   Wandii's lawyers disagreed. Standing beside his fellow hackers, Wandii

   pleaded not guilty to three conspiracy charges: plotting to gain

   unauthorised access to computers, conspiring to make unauthorised

   modifications to computer material, and conspiring to obtain

   telecommunications services dishonestly. His defence team was going to

   argue that he was addicted to computer hacking and that, as a result

   of this addiction, he was not able to form the criminal intent

   necessary to be convicted.

  

   Pad thought Wandii's case was on shaky ground. Addiction didn't seem a

   plausible defence to him, and he noticed Wandii looked very nervous in

   court just after his plea.

  

   Pad and Gandalf left London after their court appearance, returning to

   the north to prepare for their sentencing hearings, and to watch the

   progress of Wandii's case through the eyes of the media.

  

   They weren't disappointed. It was a star-studded show. The media

   revved itself up for a feeding frenzy and the prosecution team, headed

   by James Richardson, knew how to feed the pack. He zeroed in on

   Wandii, telling the court how the schoolboy `was tapping into offices