Friday, November 03, 2006

Your personal information is for sale: Bank worker uses information to stalk model

A 27-year-old former bank official who harassed Irish model Glenda Gilson and her family has been given a three month suspended sentence and ordered to stay 100 yards from the victims.

Daniel Rooney, of Castleknock Cottages, Castleknock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, to harassment of the Gilson family by persistently communicating with Glenda Gilson and her parents Noel and Aileen Gilson by e-mail and telephone at various locations on dates between November 12, 2004 and March 21, 2005.

Defence counsel Mr Luigi Rea BL, said Rooney was underachieving at that time in his life and he had became "jealous and obsessed" about Miss Gilsons progress in her modelling career. He had used his computer skills to "obtain telephone numbers he should not have".

Judge Bryan McMahon said one should not under estimate the "sinister impact these calls from a unknown quarter" can have on their victims but said he would take the mitigating factors into account and treat this as an "aberration".

He said this case was a "a feature of modern technology and mobile phones and the access to people on these phones" and that it was "indicative of the personal data of all citizens" which corporations hold.

Garda Deirdre Conway told Mr Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that there had been 49 calls to the family over the five month period. She said the harassment began on November 12, 2004, when Miss Gilsons model agency, Assets, received a call and an e-mail purporting to be from a friend.

It soon became evident that the caller was using a false name as he started shouting abuse about Miss Gilson and her career. Miss Gilson later received abusive calls on the land line at her parents home and also on her mobile. Many of the calls made to Miss Gilson’s home were answered by her parents...

Mr Rooney worked for AIB at the time and had been able to access the phone numbers though his work.
Despite Judge McMahon's comments, I suspect that it will take many more cases like this before people realise the dangers of their private information being open to abuse.