Wednesday 22 January 2020

'I did it as a family friend' - GAA brawler regrets his offer to pay Smith's surety

Paul Grimes said he ‘didn’t think too much’ bout the offer
Paul Grimes said he ‘didn’t think too much’ bout the offer

A convicted GAA brawler, who offered to pay Islamic State (IS) terror suspect Lisa Smith's bail surety, has said he would not have done it if he knew what he was walking into.

Paul Grimes, from Dundalk, Co Louth, had offered to put up the €5,000 sum as an independent surety, which included a cash lodgment of €1,000, in a bid to satisfy bail conditions that would have allowed Ms Smith to go free for Christmas.

However, the offer was rejected at a special sitting of the District Court after it emerged Mr Grimes had convictions dating back 40 years.

One of them included assaulting referee Martin Sludden after he allowed the goal which cost Louth the 2010 Leinster football final.

Speaking at his Dundalk home on Saturday, Mr Grimes said: "I walked right into it. I didn't think too much about it other than I did it as a friend of the family.

"If I had known what I was walking into, I wouldn't have done it.

"I'm not political at all. I did it for her mother and father because I'm good friends with her family, that's all."

Former Irish soldier Ms Smith (38), who is charged with membership of IS, was granted bail by the High Court on December 20 under strict conditions, which included money being made available by an independent surety.

Terror accused Lisa Smith
Terror accused Lisa Smith


However, at a special sitting at Dublin District Court, gardai objected to Mr Grimes fulfilling the role due to previous convictions.

Ms Smith was not present for the hearing. Gardai gave evidence Mr Grimes had a number of previous convictions, most recently in 2010.

The court heard this incident related to the famous goal in the Meath v Louth Leinster final in 2010.

Louth were on course for a first Leinster title since 1957 when Meath's Joe Sheridan bundled the ball over the line to score a late goal and seal victory for the Royals.

There was a pitch invasion and solicitor Peter Corrigan, acting for the Smith family, said that Mr Grimes "was caught up" in the incident.

Mr Grimes was later convicted and fined for assault.

"Since then he has led a very exemplary life," Mr Corrigan said.

Asked by Judge Alan Mitchell about his financial situation, Mr Grimes said he was made redundant two years ago.

An officer read out his previous convictions which dated back over 40 years. These included assault in 1977 and 1978, robbery in 1980 and criminal damage that same year, for which he received six months.

Judge Mitchell said given the previous convictions he was rejecting the application for Mr Grimes to act as an independent surety for Ms Smith.

Asked if there was anyone else able to act for Ms Smith, Mr Corrigan said the Smith family came from a very poor part of Dundalk and that "there have been issues" with the cash.

"We have spent the last week-and-a-half looking strenuously at trying to organise surety and you wouldn't believe how hard it has been to secure that," Mr Corrigan told the court.

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