Two students have pleaded guilty to hacking Fine Gael's website as an incident to embarrass the party before the 2011 general election.

The two computer experts - Darren Martyn (21) from Galway and Donncha O Cearrbhail (20) from Offaly - made history as they were the first people to be successful prosecuted for computer hacking in Ireland.

The computer prodigies were caught by the Garda Fraud squad – with the help of the FBI, no less. The online aliases that aided the students were “Raepsauce” and “Palladium”.

Both men pleaded guilty to the criminal damage charge to the campaign page in 2011, which had its database taken and was not able to go online for 24 hours after the hacking on January 9, 2011, just seven weeks before the general election. The site had over 2000 subscribers and their contact details.

The stunt was supposed to cause maximun embarrassmen to the party (but it looks like they're managing to do to themselves grand. Cough, cough #Lapgate anyone?)

Darren Martyn studies forensic science and analysis, at GMIT. Donncha O Cearrbhail - who is the son of Offaly independent councillor John Carroll - studies medicinal chemistry at Trinity College.

Guilty pleas

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had decided that the men should be tried by “summary disposal”, at district court level, only if they pleaded guilty to the hacking. Or else they would have to face trial before a judge and jury in a Circuit Criminal Court which would have meant a tougher sentence.

Today the students' lawyers entered guilty pleas on behalf of their clients.

Det Garda Brennan agreed with Martyn's solicitor Matthew Kenny that “it was a stunt to embarrass a political party rather than to disclose data to the public at large”.

Both students are willing to cover the cost that the occurred because of the hacking incident which according to Fine Gael cost the party €10,000.

Abuse of talent

Judge Ryan described the students' crimes a "terrible abuse of talent" for criminal activities and warned that the case could result in a possible jail sentence but made note that it hadn't cause any long term problems. The Case was adjourned until October to allow both men to raise €5,000 each to court to pay the damages to the Fine Gael website.

The pair were accompanied by family members to the hearing (who should have all wore blue shirts as a way of apology to the party).