herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

'Mind-boggling' security breach as laptop in court window stolen

'A Courts Service worker said he had sole use of the laptop and it was heavily encrypted.' (stock photo)
'A Courts Service worker said he had sole use of the laptop and it was heavily encrypted.' (stock photo)

A judge has voiced concern over a security breach at the Four Courts, where a staff laptop was allegedly snatched through an open window.

Judge Alan Mitchell said "the mind boggles" at how the breach happened. A garda said there had since been a full security review at the complex.

Dublin District Court heard of the breach as a man was found not guilty of burglary.

Alan Smith (31), of St Canice's Court, Finglas, was acquitted after the judge found that while gardai said they saw him in CCTV at the window, there was no evidence he had trespassed or taken anything.

Mr Smith had pleaded not guilty to burglary at Aras Ui Dhalaigh in the Four Courts complex at Church Street last August 20.

A passer-by alerted gardai to suspicious activity and two men and a woman were seen walking on the street.

One of the men - the accused - went through a gate and was arrested when he gave gardai no explanation for being there.

Gardai viewed the footage and identified Mr Smith as one of those at the window.

Encrypted

Nothing was found on Mr Smith, but the laptop was all- egedly found on another man, who had also been before the courts and pleaded not guilty.

A Courts Service worker said he had sole use of the laptop and it was heavily encrypted.

When he left at 5pm, the window, which had no bars, was open as it was a hot day. His laptop was on a desk beside the window.

Usually the last person out would make sure the windows were closed.

He agreed that a person could have put their hand in and taken the computer out.

The judge asked: "This could be considered a high-security complex, couldn't it?"

"It should be," the man replied, adding that you had to go through security to get into the building.

"Obviously not - you can go through a window if it's left open," the judge said.

The witness said security now came around at 5pm every day to close the windows.

The CCTV footage was not compatible with the district court's video system so the judge had to view it on a laptop.

Defence solicitor Declan Fahy said the court could not make inferences from the CCTV. The judge dismissed the case.

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