Judge Spares Jail Time For Parents Of TalkTalk Hacker

The parents of the Elliott Gunton, 19, of Old Catton, near Norwich, have been spared jail when they appeared for sentencing in Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday.

Gunton’s parents, Carlie (44) and Jason (45), had on Monday pleaded guilty to helping Elliott Gunton by moving £200,000 of funds from a seized cryptocurrency wallet. Jason Gunton had admitted to the same charge in an earlier hearing, as well as to perverting the course of justice.

The judge at the time, Judge Stephen Holt, said their “involvement was down to misguidedly helping your son.”

Hacker’s parents

The TalkTalk hack in 2015 resulted in the theft of the data belonging to more than 100,000 customers and the ISP sustained losses of at £60 million, as well as massive reputation damage for the firm.

Earlier this week police had auctioned more than £240,000 of cryptocurrency confiscated from Gunton, who had recently received a jail sentence for stealing data from internet provider TalkTalk.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit said the sale was a first for a UK police force, with currencies auctioned including Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum.

The funds are to go towards fighting crime.

Gunton was convicted of hacking TalkTalk when he was 16 and was ordered to pay back more than £400,000.

He was also sentenced to 20 months in prison in August, for offences including hacking and money laundering, but was immediately released as he had served the time whilst on remand.

Norfolk police said that during the Police investigation, officers seized Gunton’s hardware wallet, used to secure the cryptocurrency which was predominantly Bitcoin, and enquiries revealed the funds had been removed and transferred to another account.

“Subsequent investigation revealed Elliott’s parents were responsible for moving the funds,” said the police.

No jail

It seems that the father, Jason, had moved the funds whilst his son was in prison.

Carlie Gunton was sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. Jason Gunton meanwhile was sentenced to five months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Both were ordered to pay £600 in costs.

“These offences came to light as a result of complex enquiries in the linked case of Elliott Gunton,” said Detective Sergeant Mark Stratford. “His parents involved themselves in a serious investigation by moving hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cryptocurrency whilst efforts by police to secure these assets continued.”

“Carlie and Jason have acted in what appears to be a misguided attempt to help their son, but have instead found themselves at the centre of a criminal investigation,” he added. “This error in judgement has left them both with suspended prison sentences and a criminal record which will no doubt impact their lives moving forward.”

Other police forces are also opting to sell off digital currency from criminals.

The Metropolitan Police for example was recently given the go-ahead to sell some £900,000 in Bitcoin seized from hacker Grant West.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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