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   One month later, on 21 July 1995, Prime Suspect arrived at the County

   Court for sentencing.

  

   Rising early that morning to make sure his court suit was in order,

   Prime Suspect had been tense. His mother cooked him a big breakfast.

   Toast, bacon and eggs the way he liked it. In fact, his favourite

   breakfast was an Egg McMuffin from McDonald's, but he never told his

   mother that.

  

   The courtroom was already crowded. Reporters from newspapers, the wire

   services, a few TV channels. There were also other people, perhaps

   waiting for another case.

  

   Dressed in a dark pin-stripe suit, Ken Day stood tapping on a laptop

   on the prosecution's side of the courtroom. Geoff Chettle sat near

   him. Prime Suspect's barrister, Boris Kayser, sifted through some

   papers on the other side.

  

   Mendax lingered at the back of the room, watching his former friend.

   He wanted to hear Prime Suspect's sentence because, under the rules of

   parity sentencing, Mendax's own sentence would have to be similar to

   that of his fellow hackers. However, Prime Suspect might get some

   dispensation for having helped the prosecution.

  

   A handful of Prime Suspect's friends--none of them from the computer

   underground--trickled in. The hacker's mother chatted nervously with

   them.

  

   Court was called into session and everyone settled into their seats.

   The first case, it turned out, was not Prime Suspect's. A tall,

   silver-haired man in his mid-fifties, with eyes so blue they were

   almost demonic, stepped into the dock. As the reporters began taking

   notes, Prime Suspect tried to imagine what crime the polished,

   well-dressed man had committed.

  

   Child molesting.

  

   The man had not just molested children, he had molested

   his own son. In the parents' bedroom. Repeatedly. On Easter Sunday.

   His son was less than ten years old at the time. The whole family had

   collapsed. Psychologically scarred, his son had been too traumatised

   even to give a victim impact statement.

  

   For all of this, Judge Russell Lewis told the court, the man had shown

   no remorse. Grave-faced, the judge sentenced him to a minimum prison

   term of five years and nine months.

  

   The court clerk then called Prime Suspect's case.

  

   At the back of the courtroom, Mendax wondered at the strange

   situation. How could the criminal justice system put a child molester

   in the same category as a hacker? Yet, here they both were being

   sentenced side by side in the same County Court room.

  

   Boris Kayser had called a collection of witnesses, all of whom

   attested to Prime Suspect's difficult life. One of these, the

   well-regarded psychologist Tim Watson-Munro, described Prime Suspect's

   treatments at the Austin Hospital and raised the issue of reduced

   free-will. He had written a report for the court.