January 28, 2008
A private detective who helped to spy on the Jimmy Choo shoe boss Tamara
Mellon was jailed for 21 months today.
David Carroll, 60, from Highgate, north London, played a leading role in
a City-based agency operation, Active Investigation Services (AIS),
which specialised in computer hacking and telephone tapping.
London's Southwark crown court heard that the company's customers
included the banking heir Matthew Mellon, who paid thousands of pounds
to discover whether his estranged wife was concealing financial
information in the run-up to their divorce.
Article continues Mellon was cleared last year of any wrongdoing after
explaining through his barrister that he had no idea the agency would
break the law.
Carroll was convicted of six conspiracy counts alleging that between
September 2003 and September the next year he hacked into computers and
Passing sentence today, Judge Paul Dodgson told Carroll he was "quite
convinced from the evidence" that he had been the righthand man of the
AIS chief, Jeremy Young, a 40-year-old former Met officer who was jailed
last year for 27 months.
"It is right you were only involved for a period of a year or so, but it
is significant, when one looks at the timeline, that the bulk of the
illegalities occurred then."
Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said Young had first come to the
attention of the authorities after colleagues discovered him working at
AIS while claiming long-term sick leave for depression.
Complaints of phone intercepts began flooding into BT at about the same
time. Engineers later found that hundreds of made-to-order tapping kits
had been installed across the country by a former engineer on the AIS
The court heard that Carroll's tenure at AIS saw him involved in efforts
to spy on a waste management company's critics, tap the phones of a
client's wife suspected of having an affair, and target Mrs Mellon.
The company charged 3,000 for phone tapping, itemised line billing was
priced at 750 a month, while personal banking information could be
bought for 2,000 and confidential medical records for 500. Hacking into
a computer was available for 5,000.
The company stooped to illegally using disabled car parking badges
during operations and occasionally lied to customers to conceal failure,
the court was told.
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