Page last updated at 20:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 21:17 UK

Loyalist jailed in database case

Court of Appeal in Belfast

A loyalist who used a police database to gather information on nationalists has been jailed for nine months.

The sentence on former PSNI data inputter Aaron Hill, 24, was increased after the court ruled that the original suspended jail term was unduly lenient.

Judges held it inappropriate to change the sentence on Darren Richardson, 31, who was also involved in the plot.

Hill and Richardson, both from Randalstown, County Antrim, had walked free when convicted earlier this year.

The two men, who were members of a loyalist flute band in the town, each pleaded guilty to collecting information likely to be useful to terrorists.

Hill, from Maineband , also admitted misconduct in public office and was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years.

Richardson, of Moneynick Road, was found guilty of a further offence of possessing 40 rounds of live ammunition.


He received a one-year prison term, but had already served the equivalent time on remand.

Richardson had been working as a manager at Wrightbus coach builders in Ballymena when the bullets were found during searches of his office in April 2007.

Documents containing vehicle registration numbers together with the names and addresses of the owners were also discovered in his possession.

Both men's cases were referred back to the Court of Appeal by the attorney general on the basis that the sentences were inadequate.

Judges were told that Richardson had gathered car registrations on Catholics living in the Randalstown and Toome areas and passed them on to Hill to run through the police database.

Hill, a civilian member of staff in the PSNI, admitted carrying out checks for more than two years before being detected. He estimated that he had searched around 100 names.

The court was told that 67 people had to be warned to step up their security because their details had been accessed.

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