Three men associated with Anonymous Australia facing jail time. Part 3: “Lorax” avoids jail

In May, 2014, three men associated with Anonymous in Australia were all arrested and charged. DataBreaches.net covered their involvement with Anonymous and the charges against them.

The first man, Mathew Hutchison (“Rax”), pleaded guilty to inciting others to attack government sites.  He was able to avoid jail time, but had other conditions imposed on him.

The second man, Justin Soyke (“Juzzy” or “Absantos”), did not fair as well with the system. This was his second run-in with the law and he had been actively involved in hacking government sites in the U.S. as well as Australia. DataBreaches.net’s investigation uncovered a link between his activities and those of a UK man, Lauri Love, who has been indicted in the U.S. In November, 2015, Soyke was sentenced to three years in prison. He must serve at least one year before he could be eligible for parole.

The third man, Adam John Bennett (“Lorax”), was a popular radio host. The government’s case against him was never totally clear to the public, as the prosecution kept changing the charges. In December, he pleaded guilty to six charges, and frankly, DataBreaches.net expected he, too, would be sentenced to jail. Today, however, Bennett was given a suspended sentence by a Perth judge, with conditions involving community service. For Bennett, community service is not a problem, as he was already a community volunteer as a lifeguard. ABC in Australia broke the news welcomed by Bennett’s family and friends. Of note, some of the charges finally became clearer during the sentencing hearing. It appears that five of the charges were based on hacktivism activities in November 2012 (the same period and activities that led to Soyke’s first arrest):

The court was told Bennett helped a juvenile in NSW dubbed ‘Juzzy’ to hack into a variety of sites, including those operated by the Australian Agency for Education and Training, the Australian Film Institute, Anchor Foods, and the Food Industries Association of Queensland.

The sixth offence involved the website of Bennett’s employer Cancer Support WA and that of HotCopper. The charge of hacking his own employer caused great irritation for members of Anonymous, who noted that Bennett was testing his employer’s server for the Heartbleed vulnerability. It is not clear to this blogger whether his employer ever complained or if this charge was done without the employer’s agreement.

While Bennett’s lawyer tried to make the case that the hacking activities were pretty harmless and more a nuisance or helpful than anything nefarious, ABC reports that Justice McCann was reportedly highly critical of Bennett, who he referred to as a “creepy pest” and an “immature creep who doesn’t mind his own business”.

He said “as a private citizen he has no business pestering people like Nick Xenophon”.

Justice McCann said there was a “high level conspiracy to commit anarchist acts”.

He highlighted part of the rant which said information about corporation and governments should be publicly available, and called it “a recipe for anarchy”.

Justice McCann said it was not a political ideology, more like “immature rants of the schoolyard”.

He said Bennett, who was in his late thirties when the offences occurred, was “grossly immature” with an “unjustified sense of self worth”.

But he said to jail Bennett, who had “basically never grown up”, would make him a martyr, and he should instead be given the “21st century equivalent” of being in the stocks.

So almost two years after he was first raided and charged, Bennett was given a sentence of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, as well as 200 hours of community service and an intensive supervision order. He gets to return home to his wife and infant son, and can begin to try to rebuild his life. DataBreaches.net has no doubt that the stress and toll of the charges and prosecution are much worse than what is to come for the next two years.

Three men associated with Anonymous faced jail time in Australia for their activities. Only one was sentenced to jail – the youngest one who was actively involved in hacking government agencies and whose activities appear linked to those of Lauri Love. So maybe – and although some might argue that no hacktivists should be jailed – the justice system in AU, however slow, actually worked? What do you think?

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