Doubts over computer hacker case

Matthew Flannery, left.
Matthew Flannery, left.

AN ALLEGED computer hacker described last year as a ‘‘considerable risk to society’’ could apply to have all charges against him dismissed after questions about the case against him and the ‘‘guns blazing attitude’’ of police.

Matthew Flannery, 24, of Point Clare, was allegedly an international hacking group leader when he was arrested while at work at a Sydney IT security firm last  April  and charged with computer crime offences carrying jail terms of up to 10 years.

But in Woy Woy Local Court this month magistrate Derek Lee was told Mr Flannery expected to apply in May to have all charges against him withdrawn and dismissed.

The application will come after the Commonwealth Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions over the past year has downgraded the case from the District Court to the Local Court, modified the charges, sought six adjournments and agreed to vary Mr Flannery’s bail so that he was not required to report to police three times a week. He was granted an adjournment until May to present a defence expert report in response to the Crown brief.

A Commonwealth DPP representative told the court the matter ‘‘would benefit from the defence bringing in an expert’’.

Outside the court his solicitor, Manny Conditsis, said questions about the police case against Mr Flannery were raised within hours of him being charged.

‘‘Given the guns blazing attitude the police and prosecution had when he was first charged, we’re now down to a handful of matters, and the prosecution has decided the appropriate jurisdiction is the local court rather than the district court,’’ Mr Conditsis said.

‘‘It’s a travesty, and it’s taken nearly a year to get to this point. We needed time to get our own forensic report but the defence proposes to make an application to the Commonwealth DPP to have the charges withdrawn and dismissed.’’

At his arrest Mr Flannery  was alleged to have ‘‘compromised’’ a state agency, but court documents  revealed he was alleged to have defaced the  Narrabri Shire Council homepage. 

Within minutes of his arrest becoming public, Twitter received claims the Australian Federal Police had the wrong man and Mr Flannery was not responsible for the alleged cyber attacks. Another man later identified himself and said he deliberately set Mr Flannery up to punish him for allegedly ‘‘badmouthing’’ him online.