A Dublin City Council worker, who was found guilty of accessing her former supervisor's voicemail messages, has escaped punishment.
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.
Dublin District Court heard that Ms Conlon’s voice-mail messages had been intercepted over five-week period, from January 8th until February 11th, 2010.
Doyle’s sentencing had been adjourned until today . Judge Eamon O’Brien said: “I will strike it out with liberty to re-enter”, adding, “I am giving her a chance, the ball is in her court”.
During, the trial on June 28th last, 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 voice-mail had been intercepted by a caller using five different phones, including one belonging to Doyle’s 72-year-old mother, as well as a land-line and a payphone.
Astate solicitor said that there had been a grievance procedure in relation to Doyle. 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 voice-mail. She had been trying to find out who had done it and she had denied claims that she verbally abused Doyle on that occasion.
The court had heard expert technical evidence of how the messages had been hacked by Doyle. After dialling the prefix, she added a 5 which was followed by the rest of Ms Conlon’s number and that brought her straight into her voice-mail inbox, which had not been password protected.
On several occasions Doyle used her elderly mother’s phone to dial into her former superior’s voice-mail, the court had heard.
In an interview with gardai, Doyle admitted it doing it on 11 occasions but she denied she had recorded any of Ms Conlon’s messages.
When she gave evidence on June 28th last, she had claimed she was unaware it was a crime to access messages left on another person’s phone. She had also said she would not have done so had she known.