A Royal Navy petty officer has been jailed for eight years for trying to pass Britain’s nuclear submarine secrets to men he believed to be Russian spies.
Edward Devenney, 30, was told he had betrayed his country and his colleagues. Mr Justice Saunders, sentencing him at the Old Bailey, said Devenney knew what he was doing when he met the two men in January.
He 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.”
Devenney, from Northern Ireland, had suffered as a result of a rape allegation of which he was later cleared, the court heard. But by January this year, when he met the men in London, Devenney was a “controlled and rational man”.
No damage had actually been done to national security because the Russians were in fact MI5 intelligence officers, but Devenney had not known that.
He pleaded guilty to breaching the Official Secrets Act by gathering classified information and misconduct by meeting the supposed spies.
Outside court, the solicitor Richard Cannon read a statement on behalf of Devenney: “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 11½ 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 court heard that Devenney rang the Russian embassy in November last year, after what he said was a 12-hour drinking binge.
He thought he had been treated badly by the Royal Navy because he was not promoted to chief petty officer.
Two days later, 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.
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.”