DPP employee who had ‘a nosey’ in murder file gets 11 month sentence

Jonathan Lennon (35) was found guilty of disclosing sensitive information about arrest

Jonathan Lennon (35) was jailed on Friday - but released within minutes after lodging a notice of appeal.  Photograph: Collins Courts

Jonathan Lennon (35) was jailed on Friday - but released within minutes after lodging a notice of appeal. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A civil servant in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been been given an 11-month sentence for disclosing sensitive information about the arrest of a suspect in a dissident republican murder case.

Service officer Jonathan Lennon (35) from Clonee, Dublin 15, who admitted having a “nosey” in the Peter Butterly murder file, was jailed on Friday - but released within minutes after lodging a notice of appeal.

He had pleaded not guilty to breaking the Official Secrets Act in connection with criminal proceedings resulting from the 2013 murder of the dissident republican Butterly during an internal feud in the IRA.

Lennon, a married father-of-three, who has been suspended from work pending his trial, was accused of four counts of disclosing information without authorisation to three named men about the arrest of a suspect, on September 7th, 2017 and the following day.

He was convicted by Judge John Hughes following his eight-day non-jury trial, at Dublin District Court last month.

He returned to court on Friday for sentencing. Judge Hughes imposed consecutive sentences totalling 11-months with the final month suspended.

He said he had to take into account the breach of trust and the reputational damage to the offices of the DPP.

Appeal bail in Lennon’s own bond of €1,000 was set by the court and was taken up minutes after the jail term was handed down.

This means Lennon, who remained silent throughout his hearing, will challenge the outcome of the case in the circuit court on a later date.

Pleading for leniency, Seamus Clark SC, defending, asked Judge Hughes to take into account that it was a case of “loose lips” from temptation rather than a plan to actively gather information.

Lennon was a staunch republican but that was not a crime, counsel said. He knew others who were also republican and who had gone further but he was not well disposed to the person who benefited from the leaked information.

The case had a placed a strain on his family life and will affect his employment, counsel said.

The case followed an investigation by the Garda Special Detective Unit.

Lennon did not give evidence in his trial, which heard one of the people he had contacted and bought Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association badges from on September 7th was Damien Metcalfe.

Metcalfe (33) with an address at Blackditch Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, was jailed for two years and six months, last week, after he was convicted by the Special Criminal Court of IRA membership on a date in 2015.

Four other men are serving life sentences for the murder of Peter Butterly.