Council worker found guilty of hacking boss's voice messages
A 39-YEAR-OLD Dublin City Council employee was found guilty yesterday of hacking into voicemail messages left on her former supervisor's work phone.
Severine Doyle, of Parnell Court, Crumlin, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges under the Postal and Telecommunication Act for intercepting voice messages on a mobile phone used by Teresa Conlon, Dublin City Council's head of housing allocation.
Dublin District Court heard that Ms Conlon's voicemail messages had been intercepted over a five-week period, from January 8 until February 11, 2010.
She told Judge Eamon O'Brien that she found out when some city councillors had said they had listened to tapes of messages that had been left on her phone.
"A tape had been handed in by councillor Mannix Flynn, with a message from my voicemail," she told the court, adding that she was "extremely upset".
She said Doyle had worked under her previously in a section dealing with medical-related housing allocation requests. Doyle was later transferred to the council's housing maintenance section.
She later learned her voicemail had been intercepted by a caller using five different phones, including one belonging to Doyle's 72-year-old mother, as well as a landline and a payphone.
She agreed with state solicitor Tom Conlon that there had been a grievance procedure in relation to Doyle.
A complaint made by Doyle against her in relation to inappropriate allocation of housing was never proven.
In cross-examination, defence solicitor Declan Fahy put it to Ms Conlon that she had previously made nuisance calls to Doyle. This, he suggested, came following a report in the 'Sunday Tribune' which made claims of inappropriate allocation of housing. "Absolutely not," Ms Conlon said.
She said she phoned Doyle once after she learned her messages had been intercepted and when she saw a list of phone numbers used to gain access to her voicemail. She was trying to find out who had done it and she denied claims that she verbally abused Doyle on that occasion.
The court heard expert evidence of how the messages had been hacked by Doyle. After dialling the prefix, she added a five which was followed by the rest of Ms Conlon's number and that brought her straight into her voicemail, which had not been password protected.
On several occasions Doyle used her mother's phone to dial into her former superior's voicemail, the court heard. In an interview with gardai, Doyle admitted it doing it on 11 occasions but she denied she had recorded any of Ms Conlon's messages.
In evidence yesterday, she claimed she was unaware it was a criminal offence to access messages left on another person's phone. She said she would not have done so if she had known.
Doyle, who began working in the council in 2001, said she did it to find the identity of a person whom she claimed had been making nuisance calls to her. She maintained that these nuisance calls had intensified after a newspaper article was printed in 2009 alleging inappropriate allocation of housing by the council.
Doyle also claimed she had reported the nuisance calls to gardai, but her complaint was never acted upon.
Judge O'Brien found her guilty and adjourned sentencing Doyle, who was ordered to appear again in December.