By Brion Hoban
An electrician leaked pictures of garda intelligence containing the personal information of 108 people, a court has heard.
Noel Shannon (40) took photographs of a garda intelligence board containing information about ongoing investigations.
He later sent them to two other people and the pictures were eventually circulated on social media.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that this was the first criminal breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 to be prosecuted on indictment.
Shannon, of Barnamore Park, Finglas, pleaded guilty to disclosing personal data – to wit, garda intelligence bulletings – without prior authorisation of the data holder.
He has four previous convictions, including convictions for theft and a public order offence.
Detective Sergeant William Kavanagh told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that in late March 2019, gardaí became aware of messages circulating on social media showing pictures of a garda intelligence board which had information about ongoing investigations and persons of interest.
The court heard that these pictures contained the personal information of 108 people.
Det Sgt Kavanagh said the pictures were captioned with a phrase like “never let an electrician into a garda station”. Gardaí identified the pictures as having been taken in Kilmainham Garda Station.
Shannon was identified as a suspect as he had been contracted as an electrician to check the emergency lighting in this garda station on March 13, 2019.
Gardaí obtained a search warrant for his home and seized a number of electronic devices, including the mobile phones of Shannon and his partner. File creation dates for the pictures were found on his partner’s phone, but it was not possible to say when she had received them.
Shannon’s phone was analysed in non-user accessible areas and gardaí were able to find the thumbnails of two of the pictures in a place where it would be expected to find them if the photos had been taken by the phone.
Det Sgt Kavanagh agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that this was the first criminal breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 to be prosecuted on indictment.
The detective sergeant agreed with counsel that his client “neither foresaw nor intended” the consequences that unfolded. He agreed it is not anticipated that Shannon will appear before the circuit court again.
Mr O’Higgins said his client gave an explanation to the Probation Service that a few days after he had taken the photos, his client had a few drinks and then sent the pictures to two other electricians he knew. He said his client never thought it would go any further.
Judge Melanie Greally remanded Shannon on bail and adjourned the matter for finalisation on December 17, next.