A FORMER Essex special school pupil accused of masterminding an international computer hacking operation from his bedroom was gifted, his head teacher said.
Ryan Cleary, 19, who is suspected of launching cyber attacks on the US Senate, CIA, Sony and UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency, was encouraged to study computing at Colchester Institute when he finished his GCSEs.
Teachers at the Heath School, Colchester, put him forward for a course at the further education college after recognising his potential in ICT.
During his time at the Winstree Road school he hacked into fellow pupils’ passwords on the school system.
His attendance dropped off in the final term and he did not pass all his exams.
Stewart Grant, who was headteacher at the Heath School, which changed its name to Ramsden Hall School when it moved to Langham in 2009, said: “If he had stayed with us properly right through year 11 I have no doubt he would have walked out with a lot of GCSEs.
“He was particularly good with ICT.”
He added it was not unusual for children with behavioural and emotional problems to be gifted.
“We have a whole range of youngsters who end up with us who are quite gifted in ares such as ICT and art, but can’t survive in mainstream schools because of their behaviour,” he said.
However, he said he was surprised by the media attention Mr Cleary had attracted.
“There are lots of children who pass through school and may get on the wrong side of the law but they don’t end up in the national press.
“He clearly was an intelligent youngster who went to a school for behavioural problems who three years down the line used the skills he picked up over time to get himself into trouble.”
Mr Cleary was arrested after police raided his Wickford home as part of a pre-planned operation involving the FBI and the Met Police.
He was taken to a London police station where he was questioned about computer-misuse and fraud offences.
If charged, he could be extradited to America to stand trial.
The FBI suspects he is the brains behind hacking group Lulzsec.
Lulzsec was believed to have intially targeted only US broadcasters including PBS and Fox and gaming firms.
But the Twitter page @Lulzsec recently declared its intention to break into Government websites and leak confidential documents.