Friday 18 January 2019

Trust breach

Garda to be sentenced for passing on information to drugs gang who wanted info on rivals

Paul Deering

A Sligo Garda based in Dublin tapped into the force's Pulse system in order to pass on intelligence information to a drugs gang in her native town about a rival gang, Sligo Circuit Court was told.

Garda Jimell Henry, whom the court heard had been using drugs since her teenage years, routinely accessed the Pulse system and investigating Gardaí estimated that 73% of her enquiries were related to Sligo operations surrounding two rival drug gangs rather than anything to do with her own station in Ballymun.

One of the charges relate to her time at Santry Garda Station. Superintendent Jim Delaney told Henry’s sentencing hearing before Judge Keenan Johnson that over a two to three week period 980 enquiries were made by Henry on the Pulse system - 73% were related to the Sligo area.

Henry (36) of Cairns Hill, Sligo pleaded guilty to disclosing information obtained during the course of her duties as a Garda knowing this would have a harmful effect on dates in December 2014 and January 2015. The offences were committed in December of 2014 and in January 2015 in Dublin. She also admitted four counts of disclosing personal data obtained without authority breaching the Data Protection Act.

In addition, Henry pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonestly obtaining prescription drugs, including anxicalm and Stilnoct, by using invalid photocopied or forged prescriptions. She was also charged with the possession of cocaine at Cairns Hill in Sligo in January 2015. Henry also admitted offences of obtaining prescription drugs, including anxicalm and stilnoct tablets, by using forged and photocopied prescriptions at different pharmacies around Sligo. The offences were allegedly committed in February and April 2016.

Outlining the case, Supt Delaney told the court that in 2015 and 2016 he was a Detective Inspector based in Sligo and there was a concern that sensitive information was finding its way to members of organised criminal gangs in the Sligo area which could potentially be used to target individuals. He told Mr Michael Bowman SC with Ms Dara Foynes BL (prosecuting with State Solicitor Ms Elisa McHugh), that the information was of a sensitive nature and was pertinent to two rival gangs. There had been tit for tat attacks between the two gangs.

An investigation was undertaken involving several local and national specialised units within the force and Supt Delaney agreed that as a result of this their focus was narrowed to Garda Henry who was based in Ballymun at the time. The Pulse system was being routinely accessed by Garda Henry and information on Sligo was being disclosed. At one point on January 1st, Garda Henry rang Sligo based Detective Garda Peter Cawley to complain that information relating to the gangs was ending up on social media.

A surveillance operation was undertaken and acting on information about a potential drugs transaction, Henry’s Opel Astra car was observed driving into an underground car park in Ballisodare, A black Volkswagen Passat driven by a man nicknamed ‘Pharmacy’ was also driven in and awaiting Gardaí believed that a transaction was about to take place and both were arrested at 18.25. In Garda Henry’s car were two mobile phones which she said were hers. Located in the boot were eleven print outs from Pulse.

Garda Henry was interviewed on four occasions and she told Gardaí that her second phone was a gouger one or scrot phone. She stated she had bought it three to four weeks previously but Supt Delaney said investigations revealed it was bought on October 2nd 2014 and such a phone is commonly known as a ‘burner phone.’

Supt Delaney said Garda Henry stated she was meeting ‘Pharmacy’ as he was going to fix a hair straightener which was in her car. They were meeting in the underground car park because ‘Pharmacy’ believed he was being followed all of the time. The name ‘Pharmacy’ was saved on Garda Henry’s second phone. A senior figure in the criminal world in Sligo was also saved under the name ‘Child’ added the Supt.

During questioning it was put to Garda Henry that she had been passing on information to known criminals led by ‘Child’ and associates including ‘Pharmacy’ in the Sligo area. Supt Delaney said call data from Garda Henry’s phone including text traffic was analysed along with CCTV in Dublin as part of the wide ranging investigation and her Pulse activity which corresponded with her work rota.

The Supt explained that Pulse was also a mechanism for communicating intelligence and that breaches could seriously compromise any investigation or possible court proceedings. He said it would be like putting the intelligence up on a telegraph pole outside in the street.

He said requests were made to Garda Henry by the gang looking for particular information relating to a rival gang. There were also queries over future prosecutions in the Sligo area. One of the texts sent by Garda Henry was: ‘Yeah, two summonses on the way for you from your man.’ This was the response to a query about traffic offences.

Another text stated: ‘Staying with him at minute’ which related to a member of the rival gang. Another text was in relation to an address and car registration. A cluster of texts were sent by Garda Henry, the first three to ‘Child’ on January 13th 2015. She stated: ‘Search done in St Patrick’s Estate in Ballina. Will ring you later this morning.’ and later: ‘Nothing else on it.’

Texts were also sent to ‘Child’ and ‘Pharmacy’ on January 14th2015. One of these said: ‘Your friend got the train from Sligo to Dublin this morning.’. This text referred to a man in the rival gang who had made a Victim Impact Statement which was subsequently read out to the court.

The man stated that he found it difficult to trust anyone after this, particularly the Gardaí. He said Garda Henry had abused her authority. He said the passing of information by Henry was illegal and endangered his life and that of his family.

Supt. Delaney said Garda Henry was 11 years in the force at the time of her arrest and she did not have any previous convictions. She was the oldest of two children and her father was a retired Detective Garda. Witness said in response to Mr Keith O’Grady BL instructed by Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor (defending) that the defendant had lost her mother at a young age. Her father was in court along with her sister.

Supt Delaney agreed there was evidence of persistent drug use by the defendant but that she was a willing participant in the disclosure matters to the gang. He agreed that no actual harm had been done but said it could not be overstated the serious harm which could have been caused as well as there being a breach of trust in the community.

Detective Garda Dave Hannigan outlined to the court the circumstances surrounding the use of forged doctors’ drug prescriptions for certain medication. There were 13 counts in all relating to seven chemists, She was arrested on May 12th 2016 in relation to these offences and four interviews followed. Henry indicated she had been on and off prescription drugs and referred to the death of her mother, a car crash and an incident at a concert.

Det Garda Hannigan said that over 15 days in April 2016, Henry obtained four months of prescribed medication and was refused a further months supply. She also in February 2016 tried to get seven months supply over ten days but only got six months. She only had one genuine prescription for these drugs. Asked when she needed so much medication she told Gardaí that the reasons were her own.

Four of these 13 offences were committed while she was on bail for the other matters of disclosing information, added Det Garda Hannigan

Sligo Champion