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   Judge Lewis was quick to respond to the suggestion that hacking was an

   addiction. At one point, he wondered aloud to the courtroom whether

   some of Prime Suspect's hacking activities were `like a shot of

   heroin'.

  

   Before long, Kayser had launched into his usual style of courtroom

   address. First, he criticised the AFP for waiting so long to charge

   his client.

  

   `This fellow should have been dealt with six to twelve months after

   being apprehended. It is a bit like the US, where a man can commit a

   murder at twenty, have his appeal be knocked back by the Supreme Court

   at 30 and be executed at 40--all for something he did when he was only

   twenty years old.

  

   Thoroughly warmed up, Kayser observed that 20 per cent of Prime

   Suspect's life had gone by since being raided. Then he began hitting

   his high notes.

  

   `This young man received no assistance in the maturation process. He

   didn't grow up, he drifted up.

  

   `His world was so horrible that he withdrew into a fantasy world. He

   knew no other way to interact with human beings. Hacking was like a

   physical addiction to him.

  

   `If he hadn't withdrawn into the cybernetic highway, what would he

   have done instead? Set fires? Robbed houses? Look at the name he gave

   himself. Prime Suspect. It has implied power--a threat. This kid

   didn't have any power in his life other than when he sat down at a

   computer.'

  

   Not only did Kayser want the judge to dismiss the idea of prison or

   community service, he was asking him to order no recorded conviction.

  

   The prosecution lawyers looked at Kayser as if he was telling a good

   joke. The AFP had spent months tracking these hackers and almost three

   years preparing the case against them. And now this barrister was

   seriously suggesting that one of the key players should get off

   virtually scot-free, with not so much as a conviction recorded against

   him? It was too much.

  

   The judge retired to consider the sentence. When he returned, he was

   brief and to the point. No prison. No community service. The recording

   of 26 convictions. A $500 three-year good behaviour bond. Forfeiture

   of the now ancient Apple computer seized by police in the raid. And a

   reparation payment to the Australian National University of $2100.

  

   Relief passed over Prime Suspect's face, pink and sweaty from the

   tension. His friends and family smiled at each other.

  

   Chettle then asked the judge to rule on what he called `the

   cooperation point'. He wanted the judge to say that Prime Suspect's

   sentence was less than it would have been because the hacker had

   turned Crown witness. The DPP was shoring up its position with regard

   to its remaining target--Mendax.

  

   Judge Lewis told the court that the cooperation in this case made no

   difference. At the back of the court, Mendax felt suddenly sad. It was