Former Irish Defence Forces soldier Lisa Smith, who is facing trial accused of ISIS membership, has been granted bail with strict conditions including an internet and social media ban.
The former soldier, who left Ireland and married after she converted to Islam, had been found in a Syrian refugee camp, and after a trek to Turkey with her daughter, aged two, she was brought back to Ireland on December 1 last.
On arrival she was arrested and questioned for three days before she was charged with being a member of the middle eastern terror group.
She had bail refused on December 4 at Dublin District Court, and she has been held at Limerick Prison since then.
Family members were caring for her child.
The 37-year-old brought her renewed bail application to the High Court in Cloverhill today.
Smith, who was being held in Limerick Prison, was granted bail on appeal after evidence was obtained from Professor Anne Speckhard.
Prof Speckhard, director of the International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), had examined Smith in Syria and confirmed the accused did not strike her as a dangerous person, and appeared to have “no interest in rejoining or returning to the Islamic State”.
“As a child development expert, I should also say that it would be in the best interest of her child to be reunited with her mother as quickly as possible and not interrupt their bonds of attachment, if at all possible,” Prof Speckhard wrote.
“(The child) has been living in very dangerous circumstances with her mother for a long time and separating her from her mother, who obviously loves her, is just one more psychological trauma in her young life.
I would also note that Lisa appeared to be a most attentive and kind mother during the time I observed her and she appeared very protective of her child.
Smith was represented by Michael O’Higgins and David Leonard, instructed by Darragh Mackin and Peter Corrigan of Phoenix Law.
Mr Mackin said: “Our client has continuously denied her involvement in the alleged crimes.
“It is clear from the uncontradicted report by the internationally renowned Professor Speckhard, who advises governments and state agencies across the world, that Lisa does not strike her as a dangerous person, nor somebody who would abscond or commit further offences.
“For all of those reasons, Lisa should, as the court rightly concluded today, be admitted to bail to return to her family.”
Lisa Smith will be able to take up bail and must comply with a litany of conditions once she lodges €500 and a further €1,000 is put forward by an independent surety. Until then she has to 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.
He said the outcome and any conditions, if conditions were imposed, could be reported.
Lisa Smith's charge sheet states: “That you the said Lisa Marie Smith between October, 28 2015 and December 1, 2019, both dates inclusive, outside the State, did commit an act which if committed in the State would constitute an offence under Section 21 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939, as amended by Section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005, in that you were a member of a terrorist group which is an unlawful organisation, to wit an organisation styling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as Dawlat al-Iraq al-Islamiyya, Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Dawlat al Islamiya fi Iraq wa al Sham, otherwise known as 'Da’esh' and the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham."
It is an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.
Smith joined the Irish Defence Forces after leaving school in 2000 and also served with the Air Corps on the government jet.
Special Detective Unit (SDU) Sergeant Gareth Kane objected to bail citing the seriousness of the case and possible flight risk.
Michael O’Higgins SC for Ms Smith and Emmet Nolan BL for the State agreed with the order and to ban the media from publishing her address, but allowing reporters say she will reside at a location in the north east of the country.
Wearing a grey overcoat and a black hijab with her face visible, 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, she 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 submitted that risk of flight was low. “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. It was serious offence that could result in an eight-year sentence, he said.
However, he continued, she was entitled to the presumption of innocence and the presumption of bail, which precedent states must be granted in most cases.
The court was satisfied that no warrants had been issued for the accused and she had no prior convictions. He held that the refusal of bail was not necessary.
Bail was set in Ms Smith’s own bond of €500 which has to be lodged and the judge required an independent surety in the sum of €5,000 who must lodge €1,000.
She must reside at an address in the north east, sign on at a Garda station twice daily from 10am – 1pm and 3pm – 6pm.
She was ordered to obey a curfew.
Mr Justice Eagar told her she would have to remain indoors from 8pm and not leave until 7am.
He told her she cannot leave the jurisdiction or apply for new travel documentation, having already lost her passport.
Mr Justice Eagar told her she must provide gardai with a contact mobile phone number within 48 hours of taking up bail. The judge warned her that she must answer the phone if rung by gardai and if she failed to do so it would be a breach of bail.
This would result in her going back into custody.
He also banned her form accessing the internet or using any social media and the final condition was that she must not have contact with non-Garda witnesses in the case.
She will face her next hearing on January 8 next at Dublin District Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions 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 district court his client had come back to Ireland after walking with her toddler daughter, “through bombs, poverty, and cesspit camps, and desert, to come to her country of origin”.