A Devon computer dealer escaped jail after being found guilty of sending a virus to a local rival.
Paul Brogden, 27, the owner of Sure Computers in Bideford was sentenced on March 30 to 175 hours community service under the Computer Misuse Act and had his computer equipment confiscated.
Brogden had got embroiled in a price war with a Colin Baglow, the owner of Complete Computers, and before the competition, a friend.
In April 1999, Brogden sent a virus hidden in an email attachment to Complete Computers. The header said: "'Our latest prices are attached, please take a look.'"
Complete Computers staff were suspicious, found the email contained a virus and contacted the police. Brogden's business went tits-up following a police raid and he's been out of work since then.
In court, Brogden claimed that his rival was able to undercut him only because he used pirated software.
In sentencing, Judge Jeremy Griggs told Brogden: "With your experience you know just how easy it is for those with the requisite expertise to cause viruses to be spread and the damage they can spread. This appears to have been an isolated childish prank. If I thought there were more serious implications I would impose an immediate and substantial custodial sentence. This was behaviour between rival companies which was unacceptable."
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