Police details 'passed to prison inmates'
Personal details of up to 87 police officers have allegedly been passed to inmates in a high security prison in Northern Ireland by a jailed ex-policeman, a court has heard.
Kyle Martin Jones, 27, is accused of handing over the lists inside HMP Maghaberry, Co Antrim, during the last three months in exchange for coffee, cigarettes and food.
The former officer from Ballyclare, Co Antrim, who had been on remand in the prison on robbery charges, appeared at Craigavon Magistrates' Court charged under the Terrorism Act with collecting information that could be used by terrorists.
A detective told district judge Alan White that the documents contained extensive details about Jones's former colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), including names, family relationships, vehicles they drove and lifestyle and personal habits. Both serving and retired officers were mentioned.
The court heard that during police interviews Jones, who served in the PSNI from 2005 to 2010, admitted compiling the lists, but insisted there was no sinister intent, and he had instead produced them for "therapeutic purposes".
In two prepared statements handed to detectives, he also claimed he had compiled a list containing details of 51 people from his university days.
Dressed in jeans, trainers and a checked shirt as he appeared in the dock today, Jones spoke only to confirm he understood the charge facing him. Police uncovered his alleged scam when a fellow inmate contacted police and asked for a meeting.
When an officer met the prisoner inside Maghaberry on Tuesday he produced a list with details of 42 officers on it, which he claimed had been produced by Jones.
Today an investigating detective, who said he could connect Jones to the charge, told the court what the prisoner had said to his colleague.
"He said he had been given this document by a fellow inmate in prison who was a former police officer and he believed this list wasn't a one-off and others had been given to other inmates," he said.
The detective revealed that a handwriting expert had since matched the lists to notes made by Jones in his old police notebooks.
Jones, who had been released from Maghaberry on bail late last month, was arrested on Wednesday and taken for questioning at the PSNI's Serious Crime Suite in Antrim.
The detective said he initially answered "no comment" to all questions.
The officer said the suspect then consulted his solicitor and at the next interview produced two pre-prepared statements.
In them he admitted to being the author of the list. He claimed he had also compiled details of 45 other officers and 51 people from his time at university. But he denied malicious intent.
"He claimed they were for therapeutic purposes," the detective told judge White.
Jones's lawyer Andrew Moriarty, acting on behalf of Madden and Finucane solicitors, offered a further explanation as he argued for bail at today's hearing.
He said his client was seeking psychiatric treatment and the lists were a form of writing therapy he had undertaken in jail to stave off depression.
"There's nothing sinister about these, your worship," he said.
"It was a mental exercise that Mr Jones was undertaking to, if I can put it bluntly, keep his sanity."
Mr Moriarty noted that the lists also contained facts such as officers' favourite drinks, claims about extra-marital affairs, if they were attractive and whether Jones liked them.
He insisted those were not the sort of details that would be of use to terrorists.
The lawyer also questioned the motives of the inmate who handed the first list to police, claiming he was an orderly in the prison who could have taken the list from his client's cell.
He alleged the prisoner also had a criminal past linked to fraud and, motivated by recent publicity in Northern Ireland surrounding offenders turning state's witness in exchange for reduced prison terms, was potentially seeking to strike a deal with police in exchange for the list.
In applying for bail, the lawyer also claimed Jones had been attacked in prison because he was a former policeman and may be assaulted again if he is sent back.
But judge White rejected the lawyer's application.
Opposing bail, the police had expressed concerns about a risk of reoffending and potential interference with witnesses.
The judge acknowledged that writing was a form of therapy used by inmates inside prison, but he added: "Writing about police officers does not seem to fall into that category."
Mr White said he doubted Jones's claims.
"There is enough evidence to give me great scepticism about his account," he said.
He remanded Jones in custody to appear before court via videolink at the end of the month.