Hacker 'had obsessive symptoms'

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The Independent Online
A TEENAGER accused of computer hacking offences showed the classic symptoms of compulsive-obsessive disorder, Southwark Crown Court, south-east London, was told yesterday, writes Susan Watts.

James Griffith-Edwards, professor of addictive behaviour at London University, said of Paul Bedworth's persistent computing: 'I would be suspicious if I heard that someone was up playing with a yo-yo all night, every night . . . It would put me on alert. When anything goes to those extremes, cutting across normal life, I would see a warning flag.'

Mr Bedworth is alleged to have gained access to some of Europe's most sophisticated computers from a BBC microcomputer in his bedroom. The defence aims to show that Mr Bedworth, 19, was so obsessed with computing that he was unable to form the criminal intent that would be necessary to convict him of the charges he faces under the Computer Misuse Act, 1990.

Professor Griffith-Edwards said yesterday that if someone was suffering from a compulsive disorder their ability to form that intent would be 'impaired or negated'. He said that Mr Bedworth appeared to be someone who was truthful to the point of admitting things that might harm his case.

The professor told the court that, 'far from being a clever liar, involved in a cover-up', the accused appeared almost naive.

Asked by counsel for the prosecution if people who went fishing - sitting up all night, in severe discomfort, getting wet - might also be said to be suffering from a compulsive obsessive disorder, Professor Griffith-Edwards replied: 'We are dealing with an issue of an extrememly different kind and magnitude from a fondness for fishing.'

He said the case was not simply 'an adolescent jape' and likened Mr Bedworth's obsession with that of a compulsive hand-washer.

The trial continues today.