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From the Teeside Evening Gazette

A frustrated Teesside hacker who planted a message on a cable TV company's voicebank telling customers to f*** off has walked free from court.

Ashley Gibbin was arrested after ntl filed a complaint about the mystery intruder.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs recited the text to magistrates: "Hello, you're through to ntl customer services.

"We don't give a f*** about you. We are never here. We will just f*** you about basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints.

"Just f*** off and leave us alone. Get a life."

The 26-year-old taxi driver stumbled by accident on the facility to change the real message after he was kept on the 0800 line for an hour as he tried to order broadband for his computer.

A month later Cleveland Police raided his home as he slept off a night shift in Redcar and they charged him with an offence under the 2003 Communications Act.

Ashley, of Southampton Street, Redcar, faced six months in jail or a 5,000 fine but he denied the September 26 offence and Teesside Magistrates found him not guilty.

He never got his broadband because the company axed him from its list of customers.

His solicitor John Nixon said earlier: "He admits he caused these words to be recorded so that people who phoned in could hear the words. The issue is, were the words grossly offensive?"

Court chairman Alan Byfield said that the three magistrates had consulted Chambers dictionary and decided that the words were offensive but not grossly offensive.

Vicky Turner, 39, from Billingham, Teesside, was one of the ntl customers who heard the message during the two hours before it was wiped.

She said: "I was horrified and shocked.

"But I have to admit that the second time I heard it I had to laugh because I agreed with what the message said."

Vicky said that she rang the line to try to buy a Middlesbrough match which was on pay-to-view.

She added: "I was put on hold for one and a half hours by which time the match had started so there was no point buying it.

"But when I did get through to a human I was cut off. I thought I would call to complain but I got the message first."

Malcolm Padley, ntl spokesman said: "We are as outraged as any customer who tried to contact the line.

"We absolutely apologise for any offence caused and I hope everyone understands how seriously we treated this incident."

June 2005


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