Jailed Navy petty officer spent three months trying to sell submarine secrets to 'Russian agents named Demitri and Vladimir' with 'fake accents' who were really MI5 agents
Edward Devenney, 30, foiled after trying to sell submarine photographs
Took photos of secret code for encrypted information on mobile phone
He had contacted the Russian Embassy after a 12-hour drinking binge
10:18 GMT, 13 December 2012
Edward Devenney was jailed for eight years today
A treacherous Royal Navy petty officer
who tried to pass secrets about Britain’s nuclear submarines to Russian
spies has been jailed for eight years.
The Old Bailey heard that Edward
Devenney, 30, who was bitter at missing out on a promotion, had phoned
the Russian embassy in a bid to betray his country.
He offered information about sailing
dates and movements of Trident submarines that would have revealed the
unique sound ‘signature’ given off by the British nuclear craft, meaning
they could have been tracked around the globe.
The court heard that Devenney, who had been a communications engineer on nuclear sub HMS Vigilant, rang the Russian Embassy in November last year after what he said was a 12-hour drinking binge.
Devenney, from Northern Ireland, said
he had been disillusioned with the Royal Navy because his promotion hopes
had been dashed through defence cuts.
But he was drinking heavily, had bouts of depression and had just been cleared of a rape charge.
He asked for his training course for
promotion to be deferred for a year but his absences without leave and
conduct had led to a warning that he would be sacked if his behaviour continued,
the court heard.
Two days after the phone call, he managed to get into
a locked safe on board HMS Vigilant and take three photographs of part
of a secret code for encrypted information on his mobile phone.
Covert operations: HMS Vigilant could have been compromised, had Devenney actually sold secrets
It was only through the vigilance of MI5
officers who mounted a sting operation where they pretended to be
Russian spies that national security was not harmed, said Mark Dennis
In an exchange of text messages,
Devenney had told one of the fake spies: 'I am disillusioned by my
employers and I feel let down by them. Think we can help each other,' the court heard.
He also texted: 'I am in the royal Navy and I am a bit p***** off with them at the moment.'
Devenney pleaded guilty to breaching
the Official Secrets Act by gathering classified information and
misconduct by meeting the supposed spies.
The officer worked in the 'highly sensitive' communication centre of nuclear submarines, and had served on three of the four Trident vessels in the fleet.
After his arrest, he had been questioned about his motives.
The officer called the Russian Embassy saying he wanted to 'hurt' the Royal Navy after his hopes of a promotion were dashed
Mr Dennis said: 'He explained that he was disenchanted with his work and he wanted to hurt the Royal Navy.'
It had been explained to Devenney that the two men, known to him as Demitri and Vladimir, who he met at the British Museum and who took him to a Bloomsbury hotel, were not Russians.
Mr Dennis added: 'The highly secret information was therefore contained.
'Although the actual damage caused proved to be minimal, that was not due to the defendant but to the skilful work of the secret service.'
Mr Justice Saunders, sentencing him at the Old Bailey, said Devenney knew what he was doing when he met the two men in January.
Mr Justice Saunders added: 'He did supply details of movements and operations carried out and to be carried out by nuclear submarines.
'I am satisfied that in the wrong hands it was capable of affecting the operational effectiveness of nuclear submarines.
'This is a very serious case. The defendant was prepared to betray his country and his colleagues.'
The petty officer thought he was talking to two spies when he met the men in the British museum
Outside court, solicitor Richard Cannon read a statement on behalf of Devenney which said: “I am deeply sorry for the hurt and shame that I have brought on my family and loved ones.
'Prior to these events I gave the Royal Navy 11 and a half years of service and I deeply regret my actions and the effect they have had on the Submarine Service and colleagues.'
Mari Reid, unit head for the CPS counter-terrorism division, said: 'This was a classic story of betrayal.
'Edward Devenney was employed by the Royal Navy to protect this country from potential threats to our security. Instead, he pursued a course of conduct likely to put his country at risk.
'We rely on the men and women of our armed forces to keep us safe. It is hard to imagine a greater breach of that role than Devenney’s actions.'
The judge said: 'The photographs could, with other information, have led to the breaking of the code.'
He added: 'The defendant made determined efforts to enter into an agreement to supply secret information to representatives of another country.
'The reason he later gave for his actions was that he wished to get his own back on the Royal Navy who he considered had treated him badly.'
But the judge added: 'The objective evidence is that the Royal Navy treated him well.'
Lord Carlile, for Devenney, read out a statement from him which said: 'I would like to apologise for the shame I brought on the Royal Navy.'
He said Devenney had been 'something of a blue-eyed boy' until things began to go awry.
The rape allegation led to a general collapse in Devenney’s behaviour.