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Anthony Elliott jailed after industrial sabotage against former employer disabled cameras around the world

Man got into computer system to disable cameras across the world - costing around £50,000 to put right

Anthony Elliott in court after damaging equipment belonging to his former firm

He harboured a grudge against his former employees.

But the revenge sought by time-lapse cameraman Anthony Elliott has now seen him jailed.

The film expert - brought in by Kirklees Council to film the building of the new Huddersfield Leisure Centre (pictured below) - sabotaged a company computer programme to disable 120 of their cameras around the world.


Now he has been jailed for 10 months.

Elliott had worked as a camera engineer for Site-Eye in Calderdale, one of the UK’s leading time-lapse film companies, until he left in May last year following a dispute.

Paul Nicholson prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court Elliott had signed a compromise agreement that he would not tamper with the equipment after he left.

But on February 23 this year staff noticed a change to one of the cameras and discovered the command to it had been altered. Server logs were reviewed and it was found that a new script had been uploaded which had disrupted the action of the cameras.

The firm had 200 cameras in operation around the world recording at construction sites and of those 120 had been disabled.

As a result the company had to send an engineer to each location, including to those overseas, to restore the service. They estimated the loss at around £50,000.

Inquiries revealed the type of computer used by the hacker and the IP addresses used but they were traced to a pay as you go dongle with an untraceable subscriber.

Mr Nicholson said the managing director of Site-Eye confirmed there were only five people, including himself, with the passwords and technical ability to log into the company system and make the changes. Apart from Elliott the others still worked for the company.

On May 28 officers went to Elliott’s home and a dongle for the network used by the hacker was recovered along with the type of computer which had been used.

Numerous documents about his dispute with the company were also found. By then he had started up his own business offering similar services as his old firm.

When he was interviewed he denied any involvement but requested to see officers the next day and admitted he had accessed the company’s servers and uploaded the new script to change the target for the cameras.

Imran Khan representing Elliott said he had been proud to work for Site-Eye for three and a half years but was seen as “a bit of an introvert”.

He was accused of misconduct for not following instructions while he would say the dispute arose after he raised and health and safety issues.

He tried to fight the allegations and there was a hearing as a result of which he was offered an £1,800 handshake and asked to leave. He did but after a time feeling emotionally drained, his issues with his former employer continued to “boil” and caused him concern and anger.

“What he did was a momentary lapse of judgment. He still had the passwords which had not been altered and entered a programme which had the effect of shutting down a number of the cameras.”

“His intention was to cause some distress to them so they knew how it had affected him.”

Mr Khan said it was not really hacking into the system since he possessed the information needed. Elliott had now sought counselling for the issues that had brought him to such a state and was aiming to repay the losses which he believed was nearer £30,000.

Elliott, 33 of Lawrence Road, Greenhead, admitted unauthorised acts with intent or being reckless whether it impaired the operation of a computer.

Jailing him Recorder Andrew Baker QC said when he left the company and began his own firm in the same field that should have been the end of the dispute.

“But for reasons which the court has available to it apparently entirely without justification you harboured a desire for a degree of vengeance for what you saw were the unfair circumstances of you leaving.”

He used the passwords he knew to access the company’s system to disable cameras and it was that which had led to his detection. “You allowed a festering sense of unfairness to be acted out in this vengeful way.”

The Recorder said he accepted that was his one and only attack on the computer but it had caused significant disruption and financial loss, and courts had to send out a message such actions would not be tolerated.


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