Identity of NI TalkTalk hacker revealed

TalkTalk customers were targeted by fraudsters
TalkTalk customers were targeted by fraudsters

A Co Antrim teenager who was part of the high-profile hacking of telecom giant TalkTalk can be named after reporting restrictions were lifted at the High Court.

An anonymity order protecting the identity of 18-year-old Aaron Sterritt was discharged following an application by national newspapers he is suing for alleged breach of privacy.

Sterritt, with an address at Fairway in Larne, has pleaded guilty to unauthorised access to computer material.

The charge related to the cyber incident in October 2015, when he was aged 15.

Last month Sterritt was ordered to complete 50 hours community service and write a letter of apology to the communications firm.

He must also complete at least one cyber crime education session and submit to 12 months supervision as part of the youth conference plan.

Although he had turned 18 by the time of sentencing, his identity could not be revealed due to the reporting restrictions.

Sterritt was among a number of suspects arrested across the United Kingdom in 2015 by detectives investigating the wider TalkTalk hacking incident.

He was interviewed on suspicion of offending under the Computer Misuse Act before being released on bail.

His lawyers then issued civil writs against The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun over the publicity surrounding his initial questioning.

The continuing lawsuits claim negligence, misuse of private information, and breach of data protection.

In court today counsel for the newspapers sought to have both the anonymity order and press restrictions lifted.

Gerald Simpson QC, instructed by Fergal McGoldrick of Carson McDowell, made the application on behalf of The Daily Telegraph and The Sun, with backing from The Daily Mail.

No objection to the move was raised by Sterritt’s lawyers.

With the criminal case now concluded, Mr Simpson said: “This young man has now been dealt with, and he is now over 18.”

On that basis Mr Justice Maguire agreed to discharge the prohibition on identifying the teenager.