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'He is a pariah': Civil servant leaked details of hundreds of people to private investigators for profit

Solicitors for Rory Lenihan have urged Judge John Aylmer to spare him from jail.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via Photocall Ireland

A CIVIL SERVANT was paid more than €20,000 for passing on confidential information on hundreds of people to private investigators.

Rory Lenihan, a former clerical officer at the Department of Social Welfare in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court today.

Lenihan, a father of five, pleaded guilty to 12 sample charges of stealing information from social welfare recipients and selling them to two private investigators.

The court was told that this information including the location of those involved as well as their loans, etc were then passed on to various banks and solicitor’s offices.

Senior counsel Alex Owens, representing the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that in total Lenihan was accused of 41 charges amounting to a total theft of €21,898.

Lenihan, who reached his 50th birthday today sat in court surrounded by members of his family including his sister who gave a character witness for her brother.

The court heard how in September 2010, Lenihan’s supervisor Paul Bradley became suspicious of his behaviour when he stayed at his desk and used the phone during his lunch-break.

The computer system, known as Infosys, required a username and a special password for employees to log into.

Bradley informed his supervisor Des Kernan and an internal investigation was launched which included the checking of files which Lenihan was checking on as well as cross-referencing phone numbers which he was calling.

Bradley and Kernan approached Lenihan and he admitted that he was passing on information and receiving some payments in return.

The extraction of material had lasted from January 2008 until October, 2010.

In total Lenihan, whose address was given as Ballaghderg, Letterkenny, was paid €23 for information on each person, money which would be paid by credit in lump sums to his Ulster Bank account in Donegal Town.

He was paid the money by two private investigators, a John Buckley, based on the Navan Road and a Brian Foy, which a business address in Leixlip.

Detective Garda Peter Cullen said the investigation was a complex one which he had been working on for between three and four years.

He said he was aware that from examining Lenihan’s bank records from the time that he faced various financial difficulties.

The accused man’s sister Maria gave evidence in the case regarding her brother’s upbringing.

He said the family had owned a shop in Dublin and that they were a very law-abiding family who had never been in trouble.

She told how her family were standing beside their brother as he was a good man, who excelled at sport, was a good father and a good person who had made a mistake.

The court was told that Lenihan had no previous convictions.

Defence barrister Peter Nolan said this was a criminal act carried out by someone who wasn’t a criminal.

He added that his client was the only one before the court despite the fact that two others were directly involved and the information had been passed on to various financial institutions.

“It seems to me that Mr Lenihan is the one carrying the can for the actions of two other people who were at least aiders and abettors. He would not have given the information if he was not called and financial inducement offered.

“These two other gentlemen…. I hope they’re not ringing some other poor unfortunate civil servant looking for information.

“His friends, family and parents are devastated. He’s the man who stole and got sacked from his department and cannot be trusted. He is a pariah to a large extent.

“Sometimes the doing of the crime far outweighs any punishment that can be given and he will be punished until the day he dies. I ask you to consider that and the impact the publicity will also have.

“I will ask you to view him not as a criminal but as a man who has committed a stupid criminal act for what  – for €21, 000? These were the actions of a desperate man in financial straits.  I don’t see what it would be achieved in sending him to jail,” said Nolan.

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case until Friday for sentencing.

Comments are off as legal proceedings have yet to conclude.

Read: Tracker mortgage scandal: AIB did not consider ‘the potential fallout’ >

Read: Nóirín O’Sullivan: ‘It was not hypocritical’ to challenge McCabe’s motivation >

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Stephen Maguire

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