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Prison teacher said her career was 'destroyed' after mobile phone under bra strap detected in security check


Judge's gavel

Judge's gavel

Judge's gavel

A TEACHER claims her career in the prison service was "destroyed" after a mobile phone was detected in her bra strap while she was passing through a security check in a Dublin jail.

Katherine Boyle, an employee of Dublin VEC who taught in the prison system for 15 years, claims she lost her security clearance after she

forgot she left her phone in her bra strap before going through the security check.

The High Court heard she caused a scanner to beep three times before she entered St Patrick's Institute for young offenders on the morning of September 3, 2008.

Once she realised the phone was setting off the scanner she removed it from her clothing and gave it to a prison officer. The officer then provided her with a tag and she proceeded into St Patrick's.

She claims the phone, which she usually left at home or in her car, was on her person because earlier that morning she needed to be in

contact with a person who was viewing her friend's apartment which was available to rent. She left it in her strap so she could easily access the phone if it rang while she was driving to work.

When she arrived at the prison, she went to speak to a colleague and had forgot about the phone before going through the screening process.

The following day she was informed that the issue concerning the mobile phone was subject to an inquiry by senior staff at the prison.

She eventually had to furnish a report to the Prison Service. The court heard she was requested to go out on sick leave for a few days while the process was being undertaken.

A few days later, on September 9 2008, and article appeared in a newspaper with the headline 'Phone In Bra Jail Smuggler busted'.

The article went on state that a prison worker, not an officer, had been suspended after she was caught trying to smuggle an illegal mobile phone into a jail hidden inside her bra.

The contents of the article were a distortion of what had occurred, she claims. On October 1 2008 she was informed the investigation had

been completed and her access to St Patrick's Institution had been withdrawn.

Arising out of that, Ms Boyle of Donagher's Lane Prosperous, Naas, Co Kildare sued the Governor of St Patrick's Institution, the Irish Prison Services and the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General for damages for personal injuries she claims she suffered.

The newspaper article, it is claimed, breached her right to privacy, right to fair procedures and right to be freely employed within the state.

The Prison Service should not have disclosed the material to the media, it is also claimed.

The claims are denied.

Opening the case Jacqueline O'Brien SC, appearing with John Nolan Bl, for Ms Boyle said her client was "utterly humiliated" by the contents of the article.

Ms Boyle had "willingly handed over" the mobile telephone when she realised it was on her person.

While Ms Boyle was not named in the article, counsel said it was well known it was Ms Boyle.

She was "constantly reminded" of it and ultimately it was "the death knell of her career as a prison teacher".

Counsel said while his client is a resilient person she has suffered stress and anxiety arising out of the way she was treated.

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues.

Online Editors