Clerical officer paid €12.5k to process passports for foreign nationals jailed

CourtsBy Sunday World
Barry Kindregan
Barry Kindregan

A clerical officer who was paid €12,500 to process five passports for foreign nationals who were not entitled to them has been jailed for two years.

Barry Kindregan (36) also organised passports for two other people but never received the agreed payment for them.

Kindregan of Downside Heights, Skerries, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four sample charges including, possession of a false passport and three charges of corruptly agreeing to accept a sum of money in cash as a reward for providing a passport on dates between August 1, 2012 and July 2013. He has no previous convictions.

He had been working as an officer in the passport office since 2007 when a colleague approached him in August 2012 and sought advice "for people in South Africa who wanted to get Irish passports".

Kindregan said they would have to look for a foreign birth registration but the colleague spoke to him again some time later and admitted the people in question wouldn't be entitled to such registration. She asked him if he would be interested in producing passports for them for cash.

Kindregan later told gardai in interview that he considered the proposal for a few days before he agreed to process the applications. He ultimately delivered seven completed passports for South African, Vietnamese, American and Moldovan nationals, back to his colleague.

Judge Melanie Greally today noted that Kindregan had come from an excellent family and had expressed genuine remorse, but said she had to balance this against the serious nature of the offence.

She said Kindregan had been in a position of trust and he hadn't carried out any inquiries about the intended recipients of the passports, so she had to impose a custodial sentence.

The court heard that Kindregan admitted he only checked supporting documentation to make sure the name was spelled properly and acknowledged that he knew the applicants weren't entitled to Irish passports.

Detective Garda Joanne O'Sullivan told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that an agreement had been reached between Kindregan and his colleague that he would get €1,250 at the start of the application for the passport and a final €1,250 when it was completed.

She agreed that he never received the payment for the first two passports and he contacted gardai himself, following his arrest for the first two passports, to admit that he had processed a further five.

Det Gda O'Sullivan agreed with Ronan Kennedy BL, defending, that his client was "not the prime mover" in the operation and was used to facilitate another person. She said she believed he was manipulated and deliberately targeted because of his known IT skills.

Det Gda O'Sullivan accepted that Kindregan co-operated fully with the garda investigation, was genuinely remorseful and was unlikely to come to garda attention in the future. She agreed that he lost his job in the passport office but had since secured new employment.

Mr Kennedy told Judge Greally that his client wanted to apologise from the bottom of his heart and it was a gross understatement to say he was deeply ashamed of himself.

"He let down the State, who provided him with a good position, his work colleagues, whom he respected and liked in the office and his family."

"There isn't a day goes by that he doesn't regret his actions. No matter what penalty the court imposes this is something he has to live with for the rest of his days," Mr Kennedy said.

Det Gda O'Sullivan told Ms Noctor that each passport application has a unique reference number which appeared as a sticker on the form. Kindregan kept back blank application forms and later transferred their reference stickers on to the completed applications provided to him by his colleague, so that they could be processed quicker.

He put the application through each process, including scanning the supporting documentation and inputting the data onto the computer system before ultimately moving it into the checking area where it was approved.

Kindregan used many different user names at each step of the process. He would then take the completed passport to his colleague.

Gardai first noticed in May 2013 that the first two passports had been incorrectly issued and saw that Kindregan's name appeared on the system in relation to their application. His work space and home were searched and he was arrested and interviewed.

The following August he arranged to meet gardai, informed them about the five other passports and provided them with the application forms and supporting documentation.

Det Gda O'Sullivan said Kindregan was from a decent family, had a child with his girlfriend and was a good support to them.

Sonya McLean