TWO college students arrested on suspicion of computer hacking have been charged with criminal damage to the Fine Gael party website.
Darren Martyn (21) from Cloonbeggin, Claregalway, Galway, and Donncha O Cearrbhail (20) from The Ring, Birr, Co Offaly, appeared at Dublin District Court yesterday.
Martyn studies biopharmaceutical chemistry at NUI Galway; co-defendant O Cearrbhail – the son of Offaly Independent councillor John Carroll – is at Trinity.
They have been charged with criminal damage to the Fine Gael website on January 9, 2011, at Claregalway, in the allegation against Martyn, and at Birr, in the case of O Cearrbhail.
The pair were arrested by appointment at Bridewell Garda Station in Dublin by fraud squad detectives yesterday morning, when the charges were put to them.
They were brought before Judge Patricia McNamara at Dublin District Court.
Detective Paul Johnstone, from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, told Judge McNamara that O Cearrbhail "made no reply to the charge after caution". Det Garda Marion Brennan told Judge McNamara that Martyn also "made no reply".
There was no objection to bail or legal aid being granted to the two young students.
The detectives told Judge McNamara that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided that the pair should be tried by summary disposal, at district court level, only if they plead guilty.
This means that, if they are contesting the charges, they are to be tried before a judge and jury in a circuit criminal court, which can impose tougher sentences. Judge McNamara set nominal bail in their own bonds of €200.
Defence solicitors Eugene Dunne and Matthew Kenny asked for discovery of the prosecution's evidence. Mr Kenny asked for a copy of the full file that was sent to the DPP.
Judge McNamara ordered the gardai to furnish the documents and remanded the pair on bail to appear again in July, when they will be expected to indicate how they intend to plead to the charges.