‘Loner’ computer games programmer, 23, who hacked into online accounts of YouTube stars and schools friends to download intimate photographs of them is spared jail
A ‘loner’ computer games programmer who hacked his way into online accounts of YouTube stars and schools friends to download intimate photographs of them was spared jail yesterday.
Michael Grime, 22, was caught when the National Crime Agency linked his email account to a data breach website in 2020, Preston Crown Court heard.
On November 24 officers visited Grime’s home in Longridge, Lancashire, and seized his computer equipment including a PC tower, three external hard drives and his mobile phone.
Michael Grime, 22, (pictured) a computer games programmer, hacked into online accounts of YouTube stars and schools friends to download intimate photographs of them but was spared jail for the crimes
Analysis revealed thousands of photos and videos of topless or nude women stored on the devices.
Although many of the images were taken from OnlyFans or social media, a large number of images had never been posted publicly, prosecutor Lisa Worsley said.
Grime was spared jail but given a community order and ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work over two years.
He will also have to have 30 rehabilitation days and pay £500 compensation to each of the 11 victims identified, a total of £5,500.
Grime, who graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a first-class honours degree in Computer Games Development, admitted he accessed around 50 accounts to obtain private photos and videos for his own sexual gratification.
A total of 11 women were identified, many of whom went to school or college with Grime and had known him since childhood.
Grime (pictured leaving court on Thursday) was described as ‘geeky, a loner and odd’
Grime also hacked the account of one woman’s boyfriend to access private photographs shared between the couple.
The women, who knew Grime from school, college or part-time work at a cafe, described him as ‘geeky, a loner and odd.’
One said she thought he may be part of the Incel movement – an online community of men who are involuntarily celibate.
Another said she spoke to him on the bus because she felt sorry for him.
Each confirmed the photographs which were found on Grime’s computer had not been shared publicly and had been taken from their private accounts without permission.
Ms Worsley said: ‘They felt betrayed and sad. One woman’s first response was to delete all her social media which she found upsetting.
‘Another said her Snapchat had been unstable and would log her out three or four times a day.’
The boyfriend of one of the women also confirmed the images which were taken from his computer had only been shared between the couple.
Grime admitted at Preston Crown Court (pictured) that he accessed around 50 accounts to obtain private photos and videos for his own sexual gratification
That woman said she found it ‘weird and creepy’ as she had known Grime and his family for so long and that hacking her boyfriend’s account was ‘an extra step.’
Grime pleaded guilty to 12 counts of causing a computer to perform a function to secure or enable unauthorised access to a program or data.
Mr Forbes, defending, said Grime was ‘socially awkward’ and believed he may be on the autistic spectrum, although this has not been diagnosed.
He said the defendant became obsessed with hacking and ‘liked the detective work’, which gave him an adrenaline rush.
‘He knew it was wrong. He stopped on occasions but and deleted material and would start again.
‘This was something over which he felt he had little to no control over.’
He said Grime’s arrest came as a relief as he no longer had to rely on his own weak will to stop his offending.