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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Hacker cleared over abuse message
An angry hacker who recorded a rude message on a cable helpline for other customers to hear has been found not guilty of causing offence.

Ashley Gibbins, 26, was so angry at being put on hold for an hour by NTL that he recorded a message littered with four-letter swear words.

But Teesside magistrates cleared him of a charge under the Communications Act ruling it was not "grossly offensive".

Mr Gibbins, a taxi driver of Redcar, told the court it had been a joke.

The court heard how Mr Gibbins had been waiting on the line to order broadband when he discovered he could change the recorded message so everyone who rang NTL customer service helpline was met with the stream of abuse.

The new message told astonished callers that NTL did not care about its customers and would not handle their complaints.

It was heard by customers across the East Midlands and the North East.

'Grossly offensive'

Mr Gibbins said he had meant it as a joke, but the prank backfired when the cable firm complained to police and he was arrested.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Gibbins accepted he had left the message but denied it was "grossly offensive".

She said: "Part of the issue was whether the defendant admitted leaving the message on the phone.

"He did accept that he was responsible. The main question was whether the message was deemed to be offensive or grossly offensive.

"The judiciary heard all the issues before them and they decided in this particular instance that it was not grossly offensive."

NTL 'sorry' over abusive message
27 Sep 04 |  Nottinghamshire

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