British Columbia

Teen who swatted Disneyland sentenced to 16 months in custody

A Coquitlam, B.C., teenager who admitted terrorizing his victims out of boredom during a North America-wide "swatting" spree was sentenced to a 16-month custodial sentence on Thursday.

Teen whose hoax shut Disneyland's Space Mountain warned by judge to not lead 'life of a loser'

Florida police provided this picture of the young offender from Coquitlam, B.C., with his face blurred in order to protect his identity. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

A Coquitlam, B.C., teenager who admitted terrorizing his victims out of boredom during a North America-wide swatting spree was sentenced to a 16-month custodial sentence on Thursday.

The 17-year-old was given credit for the eight months he's already served and will spend eight more months in custody, followed by another eight months supervised in the community. He is also banned from using the internet for the duration of his sentence.

"His brother misses him not being home. I do too," said the teen's mother, who cannot be identified.

The mother, who spoke to CBC News outside court, said she believes her son's sentence is fair. She sees him improving in youth detention: playing sports, making friends and becoming less "inward."

She hopes her son can return to society a healthier person: "I just want him to be like, you know, the one that's happy and wants to go out and do things and not become this. This is not how I raised him to be. To take revenge out on women."

She added that she does not see "callous, sadistic or psychopathic qualities" in her son as suggested in court, just a young man led astray by older people in online gaming groups.

"I don't see that. I could be wrong. I just see [a] very inward [boy] … like he was more inward and depressed. But I mean otherwise he's a wonderful boy."

Provincial court Judge Patricia Janzen warned the teen that spending his life alone with only a computer for company was the "life of a loser" and would only land him back in jail. 

The judge urged the young man to focus on his "promise" and stop "wasting time inflicting trauma, anxiety and harm" on victims.

"It will be your job to find that young boy inside of you who held so much promise," the judge said during sentencing.

Swatting is the practice of calling police to falsely report an ongoing serious incident like a shooting or hostage-taking in hopes of drawing SWAT teams and other law enforcement to the scene.

During previous sentencing submission on June 29, the Coquitlam teen stood in court and admitted boredom drove his actions.

"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."

The teen pleaded guilty in the spring to 23 charges related to hoaxes that resulted in police SWAT teams responding to fake emergency calls.

The charges included extortion, harassment and public mischief.

The incidents were aimed at two dozen, mostly female, fans of the game League of Legends.

The teen also admitted to a bomb hoax that resulted in Disneyland shutting down Space Mountain temporarily in 2014.

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.

The Crown had recommended strict conditions around internet or computer access because a psychiatric report deemed the teen a high risk to reoffend.


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