A former An Garda Síochána civilian employee was sentenced to prison for sending photos of information about the PULSE system to a known Gardaí person.
Lauryn McCann, 23, sent around 70 photos via WhatsApp over a seven-day period to an individual named “R” known to the Gardaí, reports RTE.
McCann, of Ministers Park, Lusk, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of corruptly accepting an inducement to access Garda intelligence and one count of obtaining and disclosing Garda intelligence files to third parties dated May 2020.
The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today that McCann has no prior convictions and has been remanded by the District Court on signed guilty pleas.
Judge Nolan said this included not sharing any information or knowledge gained in the course of their work.
According to the national broadcaster, McCann’s behaviour was “far worse” as she searched the PULSE system for useful third-party information, he said, giving the defendant a 2 1/2-year sentence.
Accusing John Berry BL was told by investigating police that McCann was working as a civilian call clerk for An Garda Síochána with access to the PULSE system at the time of the incident.
Gardaí received a tip on May 15, 2020 that McCann was providing information to a third party.
The next day she was not working and gardaí launched an investigation, which included a search of the PULSE system.
McCann’s search history showed that she had access to a large number of files that she would have no reason to search for in the course of her work.
When McCann arrived at work on May 17, 2020, she confronted the Gardaí investigation and fully cooperated, admitting that she took photos of information from the PULSE system.
She said that she sent these photos to third parties using Snapchat and WhatsApp. McCann was suspended and subsequently resigned.
Gardaí also obtained warrants to search McCann’s workstation and other locations.
Various artefacts were turned over to the court, including copies of photos McCann took and messages of him with a third party, listed on his phone as “R.”
These messages were sent for a week between May 10 and 17. McCann sent about 70 photos to “R”, reports RTE.
McCann took photos of a conviction report referring to “R” and someone else’s custody photo. She also sent photos containing information about a confidential Garda source. Images were also taken of a file related to the brother of R.
Garda prosecutors told the court that McCann appears to have been hired by third parties to search for certain people. Although the PULSE system displays the user’s login details on the screen, this information has been removed from some of the images sent via WhatsApp by McCann.
Messages sent by McCann via Snapchat cannot be retrieved from gardaí.
When he was interviewed, McCann told the Gardaí that it was “word of mouth” that he was working for the Gardai and that “people took advantage”. McCann did not name anyone out of concern this could cause problems for her or her family.
The investigating Garda told the court that messages between “R” and McCann appear to suggest that she was offered €500 to provide information about R’s brother.
McCann told the Gardaí that she was experiencing financial difficulties and was offered 3,000 euros which he never received.
More than 400 photos of information from the PULSE system were found on McCann’s phone, but gardaí could not say that all of these photos were sent to third parties.
Mr Berry told the court that Gardaí carried out a series of searches after this incident came to light.
These searches included an “R”-related property, in which an individual attempted to flush a phone in a toilet.
Although no information could be retrieved from the phone, gardaí were able to confirm that the number matched the one listed for “R” on McCann’s phone.
The investigating garda agreed with Seamus Clarke SC, arguing that his client had worked for the gardaí for 11 months, in what was his first full-time job after finishing high school.
McCann lived with his boyfriend, who shared the place where he worked with others.
The investigating garda also agreed with Mr Clarke that the applications signed by her client were valuable given the sensitive nature of the garda information involved.
Mr Clarke said his client’s resignation also meant there was no need for an internal disciplinary process. He got an alternative job.
In describing the mitigating factors, Mr. Clarke noted that his client had entered an initial guilty plea and fully cooperated with the gardaí.
At that time she was living with her boyfriend due to family problems and started using drugs. She was “a bit naive” and “didn’t make much of an effort” to hide her actions, which were easily detected by the Gardaí, Clarke added.
The court also received a psychological report, which emphasized that McCann is depressed and considers himself “psychologically vulnerable” and at low risk of relapse.
Mr. Clarke said his client is remorseful and ashamed of her actions. He asked Judge Nolan to consider suspending part of any sentence given because his client was “very young” at the time of his crime.
Judge Nolan said it was a “serious crime.”
McCann had to be aware of why Garda information would be of interest to third parties and that it could be “highly dangerous” to provide this information.
Justice Nolan stated that a breach of the Garda systems affects the reputation of An Garda Síochána.
He imposed a sentence of two and a half years for count of bribery, taking into account the second count.
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