A terrorism financing charge has been brought against ISIS suspect Lisa Smith.
The 38-year-old former Irish Defence Forces member also intends to challenge a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that her trial will be in the non-jury Special Criminal Court, a judge was told today.
She had initially been charged in December with an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences), which carries a possible 10-year sentence, for being a member of Islamic State (ISIS) from 2015 to 2019.
The accused, from Co. Louth, appeared again at Dublin District Court today for a book of evidence to be served and a trial order, but an additional charge was put to her instead.
The new charge is under the same legislation and relates to financing terrorism with €800 in assistance via a Western Union account in 2015.
Special Detective Unit (SDU) Sergeant Gareth Kane told Judge Paula Murphy that Ms Smith was charged at 10.28am at the courthouse.
He said: “She made no reply”. There was no objection to the existing bail terms to be extended to the new charge.
The book of evidence could not be served and a trial order could not be made because Ms Smith’s independent surety was not present.
Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan told the court that he would have the surety in court next week. He also said the decision by the DPP to grant a certificate for trial in the Special Criminal Court will be challenged.
“The defendant has been denied her fundamental right to a jury trial,” he said. His client would not be getting the book of evidence until the issue of the trial venue has been dealt with, he submitted.
State solicitor Jonathan Antoniotti confirmed the DPP has directed trial on indictment. There was consent from the DPP and the Attorney General in respect of the venue, he said.
Ms Smith stood at the side of the court holding the new charge sheet, but did not address the court.
Her solicitor said: “We have only been notified of the transfer to the Special Criminal Court.” In reply, Mr Antoniotti said the defence was told last Thursday and he added that the district court did not have jurisdiction to hear arguments in relation to the trial venue.
Serving a book of evidence and making a trial order did not prejudice judicial review proceedings which can be brought at any stage, the State solicitor submitted.
Judge Paula Murphy ordered Ms Smith to appear again next Friday to be served with the book of evidence and for the return for trial order to be made. The surety also had to be present, she said.
She refused an application to relax bail terms saying that had to be done in the High Court.
Mr Corrigan said Ms Smith has had to abide by “stringent conditions for eight months”.
Legal aid was granted for the new charge.
The mother-of-one was brought back to Ireland on December 1 when she was arrested. It followed a trek from war-torn Syria to Turkey with her two-year-old daughter.
She was questioned for three days before she was charged. After a four-week stint in custody on remand, she was released on High Court bail with a list of strict conditions, including an internet and social media ban.
She had to lodge €500. A further €1,000 out of €5,000 independent surety had to be paid.
Peter Corrigan, her solicitor, had pleaded on her behalf with the DPP to drop the case due to lack of evidence. Mr Corrigan also said Ms Smith was anxious to prove her innocence.
Smith joined the Irish Defence Forces after leaving school in 2000 and also served with the Air Corps on the government jet.
She was refused bail on December 4 when she first appeared at Dublin District Court, three days after she returned to Ireland. At that hearing, 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”.
A fresh bail application in the High Court on December 19 was successful and she was released 12 days later.
She must reside at an address in the north-east and sign on at a Garda station twice daily, obey a 8pm to 7am curfew. She cannot leave the jurisdiction or apply for new travel documentation, having already lost her passport.
She had to provide gardaí with a contact mobile phone number and has been warned she must answer it if rung by gardaí. Failing to do so would be a breach of bail.
Ms Smith has also been banned from using the internet or using any social media and she must not have contact with any non-Garda witnesses in the case.
Her charges 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.
The High Court ordered that the address where she has been residing cannot be published but the media can report that she is living in the north-east of the country.
At her High Court bail hearing, her barrister Mr Michael O’Higgins SC submitted that flight risk was low. “She has a child here, her immediate concern is for her child, and this is a very strong anchor.” She also agreed to abide by bail terms.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Robert Eagar had said Ms Smith was entitled to the presumption of innocence and the presumption of bail.
The High Court was satisfied that no warrants had been issued for the accused and she had no prior convictions. Refusal of bail was not necessary, he held, but the strict conditions were attached.
She was warned that breaching them would result in going back into custody.