A COMPUTER hacker shut down an Ashbourne holiday firm's website "in an act of petty revenge", a court was told.
A judge told Glyn Berrington that what he had done to Menorca Private Owners "was like stealing a workman's tools".
Derby Crown Court was told that Berrington, 49, had been working on his own website instead of on the one he was being paid to maintain for the online holiday company.
When bosses discovered he had not done the work they asked of him and refused to pay him, he hacked into their website.
Once inside, he changed passwords and caused the company to lose "an estimated £2,000 of business".
Berrington, of Lathkill Drive, Ashbourne, was this week handed a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Judge John Burgess told him: "What you were doing was like stealing a workman's tools.
"It was an act of petty revenge committed during a fit of anger, or a fit of pique.
"It was a breach of trust that has lost this company an estimated £2,000 of business and some considerable time and effort to put what you did right again for the firm and for its customers."
Alex Wolfson, prosecuting, said Berrington was employed as a freelance IT consultant with the company, which is based in Rodsleywood.
He said the company's owner, Paul Perera was away in Spain on business and his son James was asked to check that Berrington had completed a task assigned to him.
Mr Wolfson said: "Paul Perera was upset that the work they expected the defendant to only take a day to complete had still not been done after two weeks.
"James Perera checked the defendant's workstation to discover he had been working on his own company website, Sturban Clothing, instead of the work he should have been doing.
"This led to a dispute over payment and the defendant, who was by now disgruntled, effectively hacked into the website and the effect of that was to bring it to a grinding halt."
Mr Wolfson said the website, which has a number of satellite foreign language sites for overseas bookers, was down for more than four hours and took at least two days to fix.
Berrington, who committed the offence in early May, pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorised modification of computer material.
Philip Bown, for Berrington, said: "This was done in a fit of anger because Mr Perera was not going to pay him for his last invoice, which was for £280.
"He accepts it was wrong and caused a considerable amount of disruption and inconvenience."
Berrington was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and must pay £1,000 compensation to Menorca Private Owners.
Speaking after sentencing, Paul Perera said: "Mr Berrington was employed on a freelance basis for us for around a year, so the hardest thing to accept in this case is the breach of trust.
"He cyber-attacked us and caused a huge amount of disruption to a company that is internet-based and relies on online bookings.
"Thankfully, now we have found a Derby-based company that handles our much-improved website and does a fantastic job."