Petty officer Edward Devenney, originally from Tyrone, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act while serving with the Royal Navy for Britain.

BBC News reports on the sentencing of Devenney, who was first arrested in March for his crimes. As a communications engineer on HMS Vigilant, Devenney attempted to sell nuclear submarine secrets to Russian spies, who turned out to be undercover MI5 agents, during November 2011.

The court heard that Devenney had gathered the sensitive information after defence cuts prevented his promotion from going through. During the case, Devenney admitted to breaching the Official Secrets Act.

The prosecuting Mark Dennis QC said during the hearing that, "The potential damage could have been considerable and could have harmed the safety and security of the United Kingdom."

Devenney had gathered “crypto material” - programs used to encrypt secret data - and also offered details of HMS Vigilant's movements. He attempted to hand them over to Russian spies, but was thwarted by MI5 agents who were already on his trail, and eventually arrested him in March.

The presiding Justice Saunders said the court had "to mark the defendant's attempted betrayal of not only his country but also his colleagues, who must feel great anger at his behavior.”

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“While it can properly be said that the defendant achieved nothing and is unlikely to be in a position, even if he had the inclination, to pass on secret information in the future, others must be discouraged from behaving in a similar way.”

"It needs to be understood by those who may be tempted to pass on secrets that long prison sentences must follow even unsuccessful attempts."

Justice Saunders added: "Those who serve their country loyally must know that those who don't will receive proper punishment."

Lord Carlile, who was defending Devenney, read a letter from his client saying, "I have brought great shame to my family, loved ones and the submarine service.”

"I accept the consequences of my actions and I'm truly sorry. Mostly I would like to apologise for the shame I brought on the Royal Navy."