A 36-year old former garda who disclosed information to criminals in Sligo has been sentenced to three years in prison at Sligo Circuit Court.
Half of the sentence — the last 18 months — has been suspended for five years.
Former Garda Jimell Henry, of Cairns Hill, Sligo, was before Sligo Circuit Court today for sentencing on a number of charges.
In the first case of its kind, she had pleaded guilty to charges of disclosing information obtained in the course of her duties as a garda as well as a number of counts of disclosing personal data obtained without authority.
She had also pleaded guilty to charges of dishonestly obtaining prescription drugs by using invalid photocopied or forged prescriptions.
The disclosure offences occurred between December 2014 and January 2015.
The offences relating to fake prescriptions occurred between February and April 2016.
A garda investigation in the case took place after it was suspected Garda information was coming into the possession of a criminal gang in Sligo that was involved in a tit-for-tat feud.
It was then discovered that the Garda Pulse computer system was routinely accessed by the accused and that in one two-week period she had made 980 enquiries on Pulse, 73% of which related to Sligo matters for which she had no responsibility as she was then stationed in Ballymun in Dublin.
During a garda stake-out in January 2016 in Ballsodare where she met with other people, the accused was found in possession of what was described as ‘a scrote’ or ‘gouger’ phone which she used for passing the illicit information to two contacts in Sligo known as ‘Pharmacy’ and ‘Child’
In his judgement today, Judge Keenan Johnson called for greater restriction and regulation of such phones.
Eleven printouts from the Pulse system were found in the boot of her car.
In his sentencing, the Judge said her offences undermined public confidence in the gardai and was a serious betrayal of trust.
He added that she caused serious reputational damage to An Garda Siochana, although it had to be said that the thorough investigation undertaken by the gardai goes a long way to restoring the force’s reputation and undoing the damage caused by the accused.
He said the maximum penalty for the disclosure offences was seven years.
In this case, he said the offences ranked at the mid to upper range and, before taking mitigating circumstances into account, should attract a five year prison sentence.
Taking all the mitigating circumstances into account, including the loss of her job, adverse publicity, and the difficulty for a garda serving a prison sentence, he imposed a three years sentence.
The Judge suspended the last 18 months for five years to help her with her rehabilitation, including in dealing with her drug addiction.
He said he presumed the gardai undertakes random drug testing of active members, adding that there can be little doubt but that a garda who has drug addiction problems is vulnerable to being used and blackmailed by his or her supplier.
The other charges against her were marked proved and taken into consideration.