NO material of a sensitive nature was accessed from the iPhone of the state solicitor Michael Murray after his jeep was broken into in the city centre in July, Limerick District Court has heard.
Solicitor John Devane said 22-year-old Sean Leo had not stolen the phone from the parked vehicle but conceded he had attempted to sell it at pawn shops. Leo, of Kilballyowen, Bruff, pleaded guilty to handling stolen property at Ellen Street on July 14.
Sgt Donal Cronin assured Judge Eugene O’Kelly that if gardai believed Mr Murray’s phone had been deliberately targeted because of the nature of his work, more serious charges could have arisen. But there was nothing to suggest this had been anything other than an opportunistic theft.
“The identity of the owner of the phone would not have been known to him,” said Sgt Cronin.
At around 9.30am on July 14, Mr Murray’s jeep was broken into on Henry Street and the phone - an iPhone 3 worth €350 - stolen.
Sgt Cronin said Det Garda Vincent Brick had made “diligent inquiries with pawn shops” around the city and discovered that Leo and another individual had been trying to sell the phone on to these businesses - but without success.
Leo only learned of the identity of the owner of the phone after his arrest. Sgt Cronin said that the accused should be afforded some credit for the co-operation which led to the recovery of Mr Murray’s phone.
Mr Devane said it had been another individual who had smashed the window of the jeep and run off. While he had nothing to do with the theft, it was his client who had “brought Det Garda Brick to where the phone was retrieved”.
“But he did make efforts to fence it to pawn shops which, if they had accepted, would presumably have meant its recovery was less likely,” Judge O’Kelly said.
Data stored on the device was protected by a PIN and there had been “no sensitive download from it”, Mr Devane said.
Judge O’Kelly said that while the theft was unfortunate for the victim, it had “presumably led to an industrious investigation” which might not have been the case had a phone been stolen from “a passing tourist”. Had that been the case, Leo might have been less inclined to co-operate, the judge observed.
Leo, a father of a child with special needs and whose partner is four months pregnant, has four previous convictions. The judge said he was considering 200 hours of community service in lieu of 10 months in prison, adjourning the case to December 12 to his Leo’s suitability for same.