Man accused of cyber attack on police forces appears in court

Paul Dixon (in grey top) leaves South Tyneside Magistrates' Court after being charged with a string of cyber hacking offences.
Paul Dixon (in grey top) leaves South Tyneside Magistrates' Court after being charged with a string of cyber hacking offences.
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An alleged internet hacker accused of launching cyber attacks on a pair of police forces and an airline giant has appeared in court.

Paul Dixon is alleged to have temporarily brought down Durham Constabulary and Police Scotland's online sites and forced British Airway's offline for an hour during a series of targeted attacks.

The website of entertainment company CEX was also targeted.

The 23-year-old was arrested after a cyber crime swoop led by the North East Regional Special Operations Unit in October 2014.

The offences are alleged to have been carried out at an address in South Shields between October 16 and October 26 of that year.

Dixon, of The Avenue Seaham, appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates' Court today charged with five counts of carrying out unauthorised acts to impair the operation or access to a computer.

He entered no pleas and spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during the brief hearing.

The court heard the cyber crimes could carry a jail term of up to 10 years.

Jim Hope, prosecuting, told the court that a Denial of Service (DOS) attack had cost British Airways an estimated £100,000 in revenue during the period their website was offline.

Mr Hope said: "The defendant is charged with five offences under section three of the computer misuse act 1990.

"The offences are in relation to Durham Police, Police Scotland, CEX and British Airways.

"These were Denial of Service attacks.

"The crown feels the case should be sent to Newcastle Crown Court.

"There are no particular guidelines for these offences but the maximum sentence would be ten years.

The British Airways website was down for an hour and they estimate their loss as over £100,000 during that period of time.

"There is also a consumer confidence impact on the businesses.

"CEX lost between £400 and £500.

"There would have been a serious inconvenience caused to members of the public using the police websites and to the organisations themselves.

"Users would have been able to access the website or be able to report something through the site."

Mr Hope said that there would have been no financial gain involved.

Valerie Bell, defending, said that Dixon would not be entering a plea to the charges at this stage.

District Judge Roger Elsey declined jurisdiction and sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court.

Dixon was granted bail until his crown court date on June 14.