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No prison for civil servant phone hacker

A CIVIL servant who was found guilty of spying on her former supervisor by hacking into her phone's voicemail messages has escaped punishment.

Dublin City Council employee Severine Doyle (39) had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges under the Postal and Telecommunication Act.

However, following a hearing last June she had been found guilty of intercepting voice messages on a mobile phone used by Teresa Conlon, Dublin City Council's head of housing allocation.

LISTENED

Dublin District Court heard that Ms Conlon's voicemail messages had been intercepted over five-week period, from January 8 until February 11, 2010.

Doyle's sentencing had been adjourned until yesterday and Judge Eamon O'Brien asked "how is she getting on?" Defence solicitor Declan Fahy said the case was in for a review and Doyle is "getting on brilliantly".

"I will strike it out with liberty to re-enter," said Judge O'Brien, adding, "I am giving her a chance, the ball is in her court."

During, the trial on June 28 last year, Ms Conlon, head of housing allocation, had told Judge O'Brien that she found out that 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 voice-mail," she had told the court, adding that she was "extremely upset".

She had said Doyle had worked under her previously in a section dealing with medical-related housing allocation requests.

Doyle, of Parnell Court, Crumlin, Dublin, was later transferred to the council's housing maintenance section.

Ms Conlon 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 had agreed with State solicitor Tom Conlon that there had been a grievance procedure in relation to Doyle.

MESSAGES

A complaint made by Doyle against her in relation to inappropriate allocation of housing was never proven. In cross-examination, defence solicitor Declan Fahy had 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 newspaper which made claims of inappropriate allocation of housing. "Absolutely not," Ms Conlon had said.

She had 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 her voicemail.

She had been trying to find out who had done it and she had denied claims that she verbally abused Doyle on that occasion.

hnews@herald.ie


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