Page 202

Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   you and put you back in again. Then you'd have to serve extra time.


   Once a week, Pad's parents came to visit him, but the few precious

   hours of visiting time were more for his parents' benefit than his

   own. He reassured them that he was OK, and when they looked him in the

   face and saw it was true, they stopped worrying quite so much. They

   brought him news from home, including the fact that his computer

   equipment had been returned by one of the police who had been in the

   original raid.


   The officer asked Pad's mother how the hacker was doing in prison.

   `Very well indeed,' she told him. `Prison's not nearly so bad as he

   thought.' The officer's face crumpled into a disappointed frown. He

   seemed to be looking for news that Pad was suffering nothing but



   At the end of almost three months, with faces well tanned from walking

   in the meadows, Pad and Gandalf walked free.


                                  [ ]


   To the casual witness sitting nearby in the courtroom, the tension

   between Phoenix's mother and father was almost palpable. They were not

   sitting near each other but that didn't mitigate the silent hostility

   which rose through the air like steam. Phoenix's divorced parents

   provided a stark contrast to Nom's adopted parents, an older, suburban

   couple who were very much married.


   On Wednesday, 25 August 1993 Phoenix and Nom pleaded guilty to fifteen

   and two charges respectively. The combined weight of the prosecution's

   evidence, the risk and cost of running a full trial and the need to

   get on with their lives had pushed them over the edge. Electron didn't

   need to come to court to give evidence.


   At the plea hearing, which ran over to the next day, Phoenix's lawyer,

   Dyson Hore-Lacy, spent considerable time sketching the messy divorce

   of his client's parents for the benefit of the judge. Suggesting

   Phoenix retreated into his computer during the bitter separation and

   divorce was the best chance of getting him off a prison term. Most of

   all, the defence presented Phoenix as a young man who had strayed off

   the correct path in life but was now back on track--holding down a job

   and having a life.


   The DPP had gone in hard against Phoenix. They seemed to want a jail

   term badly and they doggedly presented Phoenix as an arrogant

   braggart. The court heard a tape-recording of Phoenix ringing up

   security guru Edward DeHart of the Computer Emergency Response Team at

   Carnegie Mellon University to brag about a security exploit. Phoenix

   told DeHart to get onto his computer and then proceeded to walk him

   step by step through the `passwd -f' security bug. Ironically, it was

   Electron who had discovered that security hole and taught it to

   Phoenix--a fact Phoenix didn't seem to want to mention to DeHart.


   The head of the AFP's Southern Region Computer Crimes Unit, Detective

   Sergeant Ken Day was in court that day. There was no way he was going

   to miss this. The same witness noting the tension between Phoenix's

   parents might also have perceived an undercurrent of hostility between

   Day and Phoenix--an undercurrent which did not seem to exist between

   Day and either of the other Realm hackers.