Saturday 23 February 2019

Civil servant gets a year in jail for sale of data to PIs

Rory Lenihan at Letterkenny Circuit court for sentencing
Rory Lenihan at Letterkenny Circuit court for sentencing

A civil servant who sold on the personal details of hundreds of people has been sentenced to one year in prison.

Rory Lenihan received almost €22,000 over a three-year period from private investigators while he was based at the Department of Social Protection in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Lenihan (50), originally from Dublin, had pleaded guilty to 12 sample charges of receiving payments for information.

Details of how Lenihan, a clerical officer in the treatments benefits section, stayed behind during his lunch break to access details and to make phone calls were given earlier this week at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

Judge John Aylmer sentenced Lenihan to two years on each of the 12 sample charges but suspended the final 12 months of each sentence and ordered all charges to run concurrently.

Lenihan, who was accompanied to court by family and friends, closed his eyes as the sentence was delivered.

The father-of-five pleaded guilty to 12 sample charges of stealing information from social welfare recipients and selling them to two private investigators.

The court was told that this information, including the location of those involved as well as their loans, were then passed on to various banks and solicitor's offices.

Senior counsel Alex Owens, representing the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that in total Lenihan was accused of 41 charges amounting to a total amount of €21,898.

Lenihan, whose address was given as Ballaghderg, Letterkenny, was paid the money by two private investigators, John Buckley, based on the Navan Road, and Brian Foy, with a business address in Leixlip.

Detective Garda Peter Cullen said the investigation was a complex one which he had been working on for between three and four years.

Defence barrister Peter Nolan said his client was the only one before the court despite the fact that two others were directly involved and the information had been passed on to various financial institutions.


"It seems to me that Mr Lenihan is the one carrying the can for the actions of two other people who were at least aiders and abetters. He would not have given the information if he was not called and financial inducement offered," he said.

"These two other gentlemen, for some reason best known to the DPP, were not. I hope they're not ringing some other poor unfortunate civil servant looking for information."

Welcoming the court outcome, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner Tony Delaney said: "[This] should serve as a very clear warning to employees in all sectors against snooping through, or disclosing to, unauthorised third parties personal data that may be at their disposal in their workplace for the performance of their duties."

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