Northern Ireland

PSNI lists 'passed to prisoners' in Maghaberry

Maghaberry Prison
Image caption The accused had been on remand in Maghaberry Prison

Personal details of up to 87 police officers have allegedly been passed to inmates in Maghaberry Prison by a jailed ex-policeman, a court has heard.

Kyle Martin Jones, 27, is accused of handing over the lists during the last three months in exchange for coffee, cigarettes and food.

The former officer from Ballyclare, had been on remand on robbery charges.

On Friday he appeared in Craigavon Court accused of collecting information which could be used by terrorists.

A detective told District Judge Alan White that the documents contained extensive details about Mr Jones former colleagues in the 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 Mr 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".

During Friday's hearing, Mr Jones spoke only to confirm he understood the charge facing him.

The court heard that a fellow inmate of the accused contacted police.

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 Mr Jones and that it was not a one-off.

An investigating detective, who said he could connect Mr Jones to the charge, revealed that a handwriting expert had since matched the lists to notes made by the accused in his old police notebooks.

Mr Jones, who had been released from Maghaberry on bail late last month, was arrested on Wednesday.

The detective said he initially answered "no comment" to all questions.

'Therapeutic purposes'

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 denied malicious intent.

"He claimed they were for therapeutic purposes," the detective told judge White.

Mr Jones's lawyer Andrew Moriarty, acting on behalf of Madden and Finucane solicitors, 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.

"It was a mental exercise that Mr Jones was undertaking to, if I can put it bluntly, keep his sanity," he said.

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.

Assault

He insisted those were not the sort of details that would be of use to terrorists.

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 was 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 Mr Jones claims.

"There is enough evidence to give me great scepticism about his account," he said.

He remanded Mr Jones in custody to appear before court via videolink at the end of the month.