AN AMATEUR radio enthusiast who tapped into and jammed major security systems was off his head', a court heard.

Michael Phelps, 26, of Westfield Close, Trowbridge, admitted four counts of deliberately interfering with wireless telegraphy when he appeared before magistrates at Chippenham.

The court heard Phelps, a licensed amateur radio user, illegally hacked into systems used by Bath University, West Wiltshire District Council and Langley Industrial Park in Chippenham, which could have been needed in an emergency.

Lester Maddrell, prosecuting on behalf of the Office of Communications (OFCOM), said: "He was a licensed radio user who knew what he was doing and the potential to disrupt the proper response to an emergency if one had happened."

Speaking out in court Phelps, who has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, said he could have tapped into the emergency services systems if he had wanted to but had chosen not to. Andrew Watts-Jones, defending, said: "I want to make it totally clear that there is no suggestion here that Mr Phelps interfered with the emergency services, which is the main issue in such cases.

"Mr Phelps was off his head' for most of the time whilst he was committing these offences, whilst he still has problems things are much better than they used to be." Between April and July last year Phelps interfered with the security system at the university, playing music, electronic noises and speech, for up to half an hour each time.

He caused similar disruption to the offices of West Wiltshire District Council at Bradley Road including one occasion on May 19 when staff could not use the security system for two hours.

He was finally traced back to Trowbridge at the end of June when OFCOM officers monitoring interference at the Chippenham industrial park tracked the radio signal to the Westfield Road flat where Phelps was staying with a friend.

Mr Phelps admitted the offences plus a further charge of possessing restricted apparatus, which was broken and not used in committing these offences. He was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order by magistrates on Wednesday, to focus on rehabilitation and his use of drugs and alcohol.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £100 and to forfeit the radio equipment used to commit the offences.