London police intend to charge Keith Horwood, the Western alumni who claimed he was behind the hack that shut down the University Students’ Council vote site earlier this week, with a criminal offence, according to campus police.
“I don’t know how many charges will be laid,” Elgin Austen, director of campus police, said. “London police are also involved in this occurrence, so they’ll be the ones who will decide what the charges are. We conducted the investigation, but because it took place on-campus [and] off-campus, London Police are involved.”
Austen said the investigation has been ongoing and while they had a handful of suspects, police had honed in on Horwood before he released his confession video this morning and had asked him to turn himself in, or else he would have been arrested.
“His view is that he was trying to be helpful. Consequently, we do not agree with his view that he was trying to be helpful, he actually caused quite a lot of damage.”
He noted Horwood could still be arrested and the case will likely go to trial.
Earlier today, the Gazette spoke with Horwood in an exclusive interview.
“I talked to [campus police] at at 7 a.m. this morning,” he said, adding he hadn’t slept in 24 hours due to the stress of coming forward.
“I’m at a friend’s house, I had a beer to celebrate that I wasn’t immediately charged,” he said, with a nervous laugh.
“I’m being an insomniac right now, I suppose.”
Horwood has agreed to speak with the Gazette again this afternoon, “so I can get a few hours of nap time in.”
Horwood, a graduate of Western with a double major in biology and biochemistry, tweeted a video to USC president Andrew Forgione earlier this morning, revealing himself as the hacker and apologizing.
“I do respect his courage to come forward into the public eye,” Forgione said, but added students may not be as forgiving.
“From the feedback I have received on Twitter, I doubt students will be on his side. He still cost the USC thousands of dollars, and made 68 candidates have to think about campaigning over their reading week instead of relax, even with the blackout period in effect. ”
USC presidential candidate Adam Fearnall responded to the video saying he didn’t believe Horwood thought of all the people who would be affected by the hack, but that he did appreciate that he came forward.
“In the end, it doesn’t really matter who the hacker is, all that matters is that the democratic process has another chance to succeed and all of the candidates are ready to give it another shot,” Fearnall said.
Shortly before 8 p.m. on February 14, unauthorized changes began appearing on the USC vote website, including the text “a vote for Bieber is a vote for world peace,” and a poll on Justin Bieber’s haircut.
In the video, Horwood claimed he was not attempting to be malicious but saw a flaw in the system and wanted to see if he could do anything with it. By the time he was in, the damage was done. Clad in a hoodie and framed by a line of empty liquor bottles, he made an apology to all the candidates for his actions and promised to turn himself in.
More to come as this story develops.