Updated: A COMPUTER expert jailed for hacking into Facebook from his York bedroom is being freed after winning an appeal against his sentence.
Glen Steven Mangham, 26, of Cornlands Road, Acomb, used “ingenious” methods to infiltrate the social networking giant in a bid, he claimed, to highlight security flaws.
The software development student was jailed for eight months at Southwark Crown Court in February after admitting three counts of unauthorised access to computer material and unauthorised modification of computer data.
But three senior judges at London’s Court of Appeal yesterday halved his sentence, making him immediately eligible to be tagged and released. The court also quashed a serious crime prevention order, which placed strict restrictions on Mangham’s use of computers and the internet.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice Cranston said the Open University student had not passed on the information nor planned to make any money out of his crimes.
The court heard loner Mangham rarely left his bedroom at the house he shared with his parents, spending most of his time in front of his computer.
He infiltrated the Facebook website in April and May 2007 after working his way into protected systems and hijacking the computer identity of an employee.
Eventually, he found his way through to the source code – described by the prosecution as Facebook’s “crown jewels” – and copied it to his hard drive, but across the Atlantic, security experts at Facebook realised someone had broken in and the FBI launched an investigation.
The violation was traced to Mangham’s internet address and agents from the FBI flew to the UK to question him about what he had done.
UK police also interviewed him and Mangham, who the court heard probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, gave a full account of what he had done and how he did it.
Sentencing at the Crown Court Judge Alistair McCreath said he took into account Facebook’s claim that dealing with Mangham’s infiltration had cost it £200,000.
Mangham’s barrister, Tony Ventham, argued that the eight-month sentence was too tough, taking into account his candour with police and the fact he had to abandon his university course.
Cutting the term to four months, Mr Justice Cranston, sitting with Lord Justice Hooper and Judge Peter Rook QC, said the judge had been faced with a difficult sentencing task.
He said: “He rightly highlighted the persistence, sophistication and deliberation with which Mangham mounted his attack.
“The judge was entitled to conclude that his motive was not to inform Facebook of the defects in the system, but to prove that he could beat the system.
“In our view, the combination of the aggravating factors and mitigating factors is such that the more appropriate starting point, in our view, would have been six months, reduced to four months given the appellant’s plea.
“In particular, we would underline the point which the judge mentioned that the information had not been passed on to anyone and there was no financial gain involved.”
Mangham would serve half of his sentence before release on licence and, although his automatic release date is not until April 17, he is now eligible to go free on tag, Lord Justice Hooper said.