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Saturday 17 November 2018

18 months in jail for garda who leaked info to criminal gang

Jimell Henry accessed the Pulse system from her Ballymun base. Photo: Damien Eagers
Jimell Henry accessed the Pulse system from her Ballymun base. Photo: Damien Eagers

A Dublin-based garda who leaked sensitive information to a criminal gang has been jailed for 18 months.

Jimell Henry (36) accessed the garda Pulse system from her base in Ballymun and passed on operational details to crime contacts in Sligo using a "gouger" phone.

A court heard she had become compromised by a drug habit and got involved with people from the "other side of the tracks" when she carried out the offences over a five-month period.

When she was caught, Henry's phone had contact numbers for Pharmacy and The Child, two senior members of a Sligo criminal gang.

In what was described as the first case of its kind to come before the courts, Henry was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended.

Judge Keenan Johnson, who said the leaks were a "deplorable action, undertaken with premeditation and planning", handed down the sentence at Sligo Circuit Court.

Henry, wearing a blue and navy striped dress, stood at the side of the court with family members and appeared anxious as she awaited sentencing.

She spoke only to acknow- ledge the bond for the suspended portion of her sentence when it was read out, replying "yes" to the court registrar.

She then kissed her father and other family members before s he was led away.

Henry, of Cairns Hill, Sligo, pleaded guilty to three charges of disclosing information obtained during the course of her duty as a garda in Co Dublin, knowing that it was likely to have a harmful effect, on dates between December 16, 2014 and January 14, 2015.

She also admitted four counts of disclosing operational details without proper authority between those dates.

Complex

Henry further pleaded guilty to two charges of forging prescriptions for medication and two charges of giving false information to obtain prescribed medication from chemists in Sligo between February 3 and April 20, 2016.

Supt Jim Delaney previously told the court that gardai in Sligo were concerned in 2015 and 2016 that sensitive garda information was finding its way to a Sligo criminal gang.

He said that Henry, based in Ballymun, had contacted a Sligo garda, pointing out that some sensitive garda information was appearing on social media.

A "complex, multi-disciplinary" investigation was launched and it was found that Henry herself had made 980 queries in a two-week period and 73pc of those were about Sligo on the Pulse system.

A surveillance operation was put in place with the support of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Acting on information about a potential drugs transaction, Henry's vehicle was observed driving into an underground car park in Ballisodare.

A black VW Passat driven by a man nicknamed Pharmacy was also driven in and both he and Henry were arrested.

Gardai found two phones in Henry's car, one of which she described as a "scrote" or "gouger" or "burner" phone.

Supt Delaney said the investigation was complicated, complex and unprecedented. He said it confirmed that requests were made by the criminals and answers given by text.

Supt Delaney had noted that there had been "no actual harm" done as a result of the leaks, but it could "not be overstated the serious harm which could have resulted from them".

"The public have a right to expect members of An Garda Siochana to be beyond reproach," the judge said.

"Not alone did the accused as an acting member of An Garda Siochana break the law, but by releasing the sensitive information from the Pulse system to members of the criminal fraternity she put the lives of members of the public at risk."

Error

He noted that a prison sentence would be more difficult for Henry than for an ordinary citizen.

The defence had argued that the offending in a short period of time was an "aberration" for Henry, who had expressed remorse, which the judge accepted was sincere.

Those who submitted testimonials included former EU Commissioner, TD and minister Ray MacSharry, who said Henry's father was held in the highest esteem and that the accused made an "error of judgment."

Judge Johnson imposed sentence on one count and took the rest into consideration.

He suspended the final 18 months of the sentence on the accused entering a good behaviour bond for five years.

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