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Ofcom slaps down ham botherer

Drive-by signal jammer closed down

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A 63-year-old man from Hull has pleaded guilty to driving by the homes of radio hams purely for the joy of interfering with their hobby.

In a case brought by Ofcom, Clive McMurray appeared in Hull Crown Court and admitted operating a radio transmitter without a licence. He was given a four-month sentence suspended for 18 months as well as forfeiting his radio kit and landing a curfew preventing him from roaming the streets between 7pm and 7am at night.

Driving around in his van, Mr McMurray would park up outside the home of an operating radio ham and start jamming the signal or broadcasting his own (or both). Quite why he did this remains a mystery, but despite initially denying the charges in September he pleaded guilty on Monday.

Triangulating a radio source is pretty easy, but if it's moving around - mounted, say, in a Toyota van - then it's a good deal harder, and Ofcom has been pursuing the case since May 2009.

Operating a radio transmitter without a licence is illegal, and Ofcom has the power to prosecute in such cases (as it did this time). In most cases a stern telling off is sufficient, and such powers are reserved for shutting down pirate radio stations where confiscation of the equipment is more important than the punishment imposed.

We've no idea why Clive McMurray wanted to upset the radio hams, who are mostly harmless at worst, but hopefully he'll now find a more productive hobby, and one he can do at home. ®

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