herald

Thursday 23 January 2020

Terror suspect Lisa Smith wins bail, but is banned from social media and internet

Lisa Smith pictured at a previous court appearance in Dublin
Lisa Smith pictured at a previous court appearance in Dublin

Former Defence Forces soldier Lisa Smith, who is facing trial accused of Islamic State (IS) membership, has been granted bail with strict conditions, including an internet and social media ban.

Ms Smith, who left Ireland and married after she converted to Islam, was found in a Syrian refugee camp.

After a trek to Turkey with her two-year-old daughter, she was brought back to Ireland on December 1.

However, on arrival she was arrested and questioned for three days before she was charged with being a member of the terror group between October 28, 2015 and last December 1.

She had bail refused on December 4 at Dublin District Court, and has been held at Limerick Prison since then. Family members are caring for her child.

The 37-year-old brought her renewed bail application to the High Court yesterday.

She will be able to take up bail and must comply with a list of conditions once she lodges €500 and an additional €1,000 is put forward by an independent surety. Until then she must remain in prison.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar made an order restricting the publication of evidence in support of the objection to bail to protect the integrity of the jury system.

Ms Smith joined the Defence Forces after leaving school in 2000 and also served with the Air Corps on the government jet.

Risk

Special Detective Unit Sergeant Gareth Kane objected to bail, citing the seriousness of the case and possible flight risk.

Michael O'Higgins, for Ms Smith, and Emmet Nolan, for the State, agreed with the order banning the media from publishing Ms Smith's address but allowing reporters to say she will reside at a location in the north-east of the country.

Wearing a grey overcoat and a black hijab, Ms Smith sat behind a glass barrier for most of the bail hearing.

Visibly upset, she got into the witness box and, after swearing on the Koran, pleaded for bail to be with her child.

She agreed with Mr O'Higgins that she would comply with any order made by the court.

Mr O'Higgins said the risk of flight was low, saying: "She has a child here, her immediate concern is for her child, and this is a very strong anchor."

In his ruling, Mr Justice Eagar said Ms Smith was accused of membership of a terrorist organisation, a serious offence that could result in an eight-year sentence.

However, he added that she was entitled to the presumption of innocence and the presumption of bail.

The court was satisfied no warrants had been issued and she had no previous convictions. The judge held that refusal of bail was not necessary.

Bail was set in Ms Smith's own bond of €500 and the judge required an independent surety in the sum of €5,000 of which €1,000 must be lodged.

Ms Smith must reside at an address in the north-east and sign on at a garda station twice daily, from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm.

She was also ordered to obey a curfew, with Mr Justice Eagar telling her she would have to remain indoors from 8pm to 7am.

Warned

He told Ms Smith she cannot leave the jurisdiction or apply for new travel documentation.

The judge said she must provide gardai with a contact mobile phone number within 48 hours of taking up bail.

He warned her she must answer the phone if rung by gardai, and if she failed to do so it would result in her going back into custody.

He also banned her from accessing the internet or using any social media. The final condition was that she must not have contact with non-garda witnesses in the case.

Ms Smith will face her next hearing on January 8 at Dublin District Court.

The DPP has directed trial on indictment. She is to be served with a book of evidence and possible further charges are contemplated.

At her first hearing on December 4, her solicitor had pleaded for bail, telling the court his client had come back to Ireland after walking with her toddler daughter "through bombs, poverty and cesspit camps and desert".

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