Sunday 25 August 2019

Civil servant guilty of breaking Official Secrets Act

Suspended: Jonathan Lennon denied the charges. Picture: Collins
Suspended: Jonathan Lennon denied the charges. Picture: Collins

Tom Tuite

A service officer working for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been found guilty of disclosing sensitive information in connection with the arrest of a suspect in a dissident republican murder case.

Jonathan Lennon (35), from Clonee, Co Meath, admitted having a "nosey" in the Peter Butterly murder file.

However, the civil servant denied breaking the Official Secrets Act in connection with criminal proceedings resulting from the 2013 murder of the dissident republican during an internal feud in the IRA.

Lennon, a father-of-three, who has been suspended from work, was accused of four counts of disclosing information without authorisation to three named men about the arrest of a suspect, on September 7, 2017 and the following day.

Following an eight-day non-jury trial, at Dublin District Court, Judge John Hughes yesterday convicted him on all charges. Sentencing was adjourned until June 6 for medical reports on Lennon to be obtained.

Delivering his verdict, Judge Hughes said he had carefully considered prosecution and defence submissions about circumstantial evidence.

He also noted the 34 exhibits, CCTV evidence, voluminous text messages, items seized from Lennon's home and car, eight memos of interviews with Lennon and the evidence of 20 State witnesses.

Lennon showed no reaction to the verdict and his barrister asked for sentencing to be adjourned for a report into his mental health.

The offence can carry a six-month sentence and a €127 fine per charge.

The trial heard one of the people Lennon had contacted and bought Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association badges from on September 7 was Damien Metcalfe.

Metcalfe (33), of Blackditch Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, was jailed for two years and six months on Monday after he was convicted by the Special Criminal Court of IRA membership on a date in 2015.

Four other men are serving life sentences for the murder of Mr Butterly.

Irish Independent

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