A sacked garda who passed on confidential information and illegally held a single barrel shot gun in his Meath home has been ordered to carry out community service in lieu of a jail term.
Daniel Tarrant (aged 51) personally and indirectly accessed confidential data on the garda system to give to retail security firms who were clients of his partner.
Detective Sergeant Tommy Murphy said that the garda’s motivation had been to help his partner preserve a good business relationship with the firms as she had no license to provide security services.
Tarrant (aged 51) with an address at Doon, Kiskeam, Mallow, Co Cork pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three charges of disclosing personal data without the prior authority of the Data Controller between December 23, 2008 and July 16, 2009.
He also pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a single barrel shotgun on October 9, 2009 at Cluain Ri, Ashbourne, Co Meath.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring, who had previously adjourned the case having heard evidence, noted a probation report before the court had assessed Tarrant as being suitable for community service.
She ordered that he carry out 200 hours in lieu of two years in prison and gave him 12 months to complete that.
Judge Ring noted that under the Data Protection Act, only monetary penalties are available to the court. She ordered that Tarrant pay over €1,000 to be divided amongst St Vincent De Paul, The Capuchin Day Centre and The Father Peter McVerry Trust.
Det Sgt Murphy told Colm O Briain BL, prosecuting, at the initial hearing that Tarrant explained the gun was a family heirloom he inherited after his father’s death and he never bothered to register the firearm.
Gardai began investigating Tarrant’s mobile phone records after a tip-off from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in November 2011 about data protection breaches.
The detective said Tarrant, who had been stationed at Finglas Garda Station, was dismissed after 27 years in the force following the investigation. He is entitled to a pension but he won’t have access to it until he is 60 years old.
The information he accessed from PULSE records related to a security firm’s business competitor on one occasion and on another it was personal details of a known shop lifter.
Tarrant admitted he had accessed the records personally and by asking colleagues.
Det Gda Murphy agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending, that he was satisfied there was no criminal context in Tarrant’s offences.
Mr McGinn submitted that Tarrant is now on Jobseekers Allowance and volunteers at a radio station, having picked up some radio broadcasting qualifications since his dismissal.
He said his client acted out of “misguided loyalty” to his partner and asked Judge Ring to recognise that Tarrant has already been punished through losing his career and good character.
“He was doing it through altruistic motives”, submitted Mr McGinn, adding that his client’s garda career had been “his whole life.”
Counsel asked the judge to consider that his Tarrant might have suffered enough punishment.
Judge Ring replied that “if we all had access to the PULSE system there would be total disruption in the community”.
Mr McGinn told her there was no reality in a fine, which is up to €100,000 for a Data Protection Act breach, since his client was “on the bread line”.