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   This gave Galbally exactly two days in which to find a barrister who

   was good, available and smart enough to assimilate a massive amount of

   technical information in a short time. He found Andrew Tinney.

  

   Tinney worked around the clock and by Wednesday, 2 October, he was

   ready. Once again, all the lawyers, and the hacker, gathered at the

   court.

  

   This time, however, it was the judges who threw a spanner into the

   works. They asked both sides to spend the first hour or so explaining

   exactly why the Supreme Court should hear the case stated at all. The

   lawyers looked at each other in surprise. What was this all about?

  

   After hearing some brief arguments from both sides, the judges retired

   to consider their position. When they returned, Justice Hayne read a

   detailed judgment saying, in essence, that the judges refused to hear

   the case.

  

   As the judge spoke, it became clear that the Supreme Court judges

   weren't just refusing to hear this case stated; they were virtually

   refusing to hear any case stated in future. Not for computer crimes.

   Not for murder. Not for fraud. Not for anything. They were sending a

   message to the County Court judges: don't send us a case stated except

   in exceptional circumstances.

  

   Geoff Chettle slumped in his chair, his hands shielding his face. Paul

   Galbally looked stunned. Andrew Tinney looked as if he wanted to leap

   from his chair shouting, `I just killed myself for the past two days

   on this case! You have to hear it!' Even Lesley Taylor, the quiet,

   unflappable and inscrutable DPP solicitor who had replaced Andrea

   Pavleka on the case, looked amazed.

  

   The ruling had enormous implications. Judges from the lower courts

   would be loath to ever send cases to the Supreme Court for

   clarification on points of law again. Mendax had made legal history,

   but not in the way he had hoped.

  

   Mendax's case passed back down to the County Court.

  

   He had considered taking his case to trial, but with recently

   announced budget cuts to Legal Aid, he knew there was little hope of

   receiving funding to fight the charges. The cuts were forcing the poor

   to plead guilty, leaving justice available only for the wealthy.

   Worse, he felt the weight of pleading guilty, not only as a sense of

   injustice in his own case, but for future hacking cases which would

   follow. Without clarity on the meaning of the law--which the judges

   had refused to provide--or a message from a jury in a landmark case,

   such as Wandii's trial, Mendax believed that hackers could expect

   little justice from either the police or the courts in the future.

  

   On 5 December 1996, Mendax pleaded guilty to the remaining six charges

   and was sentenced on all counts.

  

   Court Two was quiet that day. Geoff Chettle, for the prosecution,

   wasn't there. Instead, the quietly self-possessed Lesley Taylor

   handled the matter. Paul Galbally appeared for Mendax himself. Ken Day

   sat, expressionless, in the front row of the public benches. He looked

   a little weary. A few rows back, Mendax's mother seemed nervous.

   Electron slipped silently into the back of the room and gave Mendax a

   discreet smile.