British Columbia

Teen who 'swatted' Disneyland had too much time on hands

A Coquitlam, B.C., teenager who pleaded guilty to a North America-wide "swatting" spree says he terrorized targets including Disneyland's Space Mountain because he was bored.

Crown asks for 16 months for teen guilty of 23 charges in 'swatting' spree that shut Space Mountain

Florida police provided this picture of the Coquitlam, B.C., teen with his face blurred, as he is a minor. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

A Coquitlam, B.C., teenager who admitted to a North America-wide "swatting" spree says he terrorized targets — including Disneyland — because he was bored.

The Crown is asking for a 16-month custodial sentence for the teenager, who can't be identified because he is a young offender. The youth stood up to speak in court Monday.

"I had a lot of time on my hands," he said. "I don't do anything productive, and that leaves me time to do criminal activity."

Swatting typically refers to an internet hoax where hackers fake an emergency call and emergency personnel, like a police SWAT team, are deployed.

'Just a computer geek'

The teen has already spent eight months in custody; he wore sweat pants and a green T-shirt as he sat behind the plexiglass window of the prisoner's box, fidgeting with the long sweep of a bowl-shaped haircut.

This spring, he pleaded guilty to 23 charges including extortion, harassment and public mischief in relation to incidents targeting more than two dozen mostly young, female fans of the game League of Legends.

He also admitted to a bomb hoax that resulted in Disneyland shutting down Space Mountain last year.

The teen's lawyer, Stephen Martin, described him as a "loner" acting in concert with about 20 members of an online community.

"If he could, he'd live in a small apartment, surrounded by computers, and order pizza in," Martin said.

"He's just a computer geek. He got involved with the wrong group of people with computers."

The teen was arrested last year after police in Florida accused him of calling a high school and threatening to "shoot everyone" with an AK-47.

According to news reports, many of the teen's targets rejected his online advances, resulting in a tirade of criminal pranks, which included shutting down internet access and posting their personal information.

One young woman from Arizona withdrew from university because of the teen's relentless attacks on her and her family.

In one instance, he identified himself as the woman's brother and told police he had just shot his parents. The resulting police raid resulted in numerous media reports.

A high risk to reoffend

Crown prosecutor Michael Bauer said that in addition to time served, the teen should spend another eight months in a youth detention facility, followed by eight months of probation.

He also recommended conditions including no internet access or possession of a computer or device capable of connecting with the internet. 

According to a psychiatric report, the teenager is a high risk to reoffend.

Martin said the experience has been "a learning experience."

"If he ever does anything like this as an adult, they'd throw him in jail and throw away the key," Martin said.

Judge Patricia Janzen noted the teen's ability with computers, which she called a double-edged sword for him.

"I'm just concerned that will become your life again," she said. 

"I don't currently have any other clear path for productivity," the teen said.

Janzen will sentence the youth on July 9.