Two UK teens have been sentenced to a suspended prison term and community service for a vicious online campaign that caused an online hosting company to go out of business.

The relatively lenient sentences handed to Zachary Woodham, 19, and Louis Tobenhouse, 18, were probably influenced by their guilty plea and youth for crimes that would have landed older offenders longer jail time.

According to the Metropolitan Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), using the online nom de plume ‘Colonel Root’, Woodham attacked small hosting firm Punkyhosting over a number of weeks, hacking into its servers with such severity that the company was unable to continue operating.

A police raid on his Brighton home and subsequent investigation connected his activity to Tobenhouse and the pair’s targeting of a number of other hosting companies and online casinos. Thousands of stolen credit card details were also discovered, which Woodham used to pay for access to premium rate chatlines which he owned, a convenient way of laundering the stolen proceeds.

The scheme was amateurish – the police would have had no trouble working out that the cards paying money to his chatlines were stolen, a compelling trail of evidence for prosecution. Woodhouse had also sent a “gloating” email to Punkyhosting boasting of his attacks, the police said.

His accomplice Tobenhouse was reported to have said at the time of his arrest, "I will never get a job in IT now."

"Woodham and Tobenhouse chose to abuse their computer skills causing a considerable amount of financial loss and anxiety to a number of innocent people,” said Detective Constable Stuart Hosking of the PCeU. “Woodham in particular has shown himself to be a vindictive hacker with no sign of remorse towards any of his victims.”

At Southwark Crown Court, Woodham was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, while Tobenhouse was let off with 400 hours of unpaid work under a 12-month Community Order.

The pair were also members of the notorious online ‘Facebook of crime’ Gh0stmarket, several of whose key members were convicted for their crimes in March, with sentences of up to five years each handed down.