Tuesday 20 August 2019

DPP civil servant appeals jail term for leak about dissident's murder

Jonathan Lennon: Released after being sentenced. Picture: Collins
Jonathan Lennon: Released after being sentenced. Picture: Collins

Tom Tuite

A civil servant in the office of the DPP has been given an 11-month sentence for disclosing sensitive information about the arrest of a suspect in a dissident republican murder case.

Service officer Jonathan Lennon (35), from Clonee, Dublin 15, admitted having a "nosey" in the Peter Butterly murder file. He was jailed yesterday but released within minutes after lodging a notice of appeal.

He had pleaded not guilty to breaking the Official Secrets Act in connection with criminal proceedings resulting from the 2013 murder of dissident republican Butterly during an internal feud in the IRA.

Lennon, a married father-of-three, who has been suspended from work pending his trial, was accused of four counts of disclosing information without authorisation to three named men about the arrest of a suspect, on September 7 and September 8, 2017.

He was convicted by Judge John Hughes following his eight-day, non-jury trial at Dublin District Court last month.

At sentencing, Judge Hughes said he had to take into account the breach of trust and the reputational damage to the offices of the DPP.

Appeal bail in Lennon's own bond of €1,000 was set, and was taken up minutes after the jail term was handed down.

This means Lennon, who remained silent throughout his hearing, will challenge the outcome of the case in the Circuit Court on a later date.

Pleading for leniency Seamus Clark SC, defending, asked Judge Hughes to take into account that it was a case of "loose lips" from temptation rather than a plan to actively gather information.

Lennon was a staunch republican but that was not a crime, counsel said.

Convicting Lennon, Judge Hughes had 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.

The case followed an investigation by the Garda Special Detective Unit.

Lennon was investigated for leaking information after a suspect was arrested on September 8, 2017.

Gardaí believed the man had been tipped off beforehand because he was up, dressed and waiting for gardaí when they came to his home in the early hours of the morning. His phone was also missing.

Irish Independent

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