ISIS suspect Lisa Smith sent for trial to non-jury Special Criminal Court

“The current evidence points to her never being part of any illegal groups and it was solely for religious purposes”, solicitor tells court.
ISIS suspect Lisa Smith sent for trial to non-jury Special Criminal Court

Lisa Smith, a 38-year-old mother of one, from Co. Louth, has indicated through her solicitor that she will challenge the decision by the DPP that she cannot have a jury trial. Picture: Collins Courts

Former Irish Defence Forces member Lisa Smith has been sent forward for trial to the Special Criminal Court accused of membership of the Islamic State radical terrorist group.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed trial in the non-jury court which is used for terrorism-related and organised crime trials.

The DPP has obtained a certificate, under the Offences Against the State Act that, in this case, the ordinary courts were inadequate to secure the administration of justice. The certificate was furnished to Judge Marie Quirke at Dublin District Court today.

The Attorney General agreed with the decision in relation to the trial venue, Judge Quirke noted.

A State solicitor asked Judge Quirke to make an order of return for trial to a sitting of a Special Criminal Court. Bail terms had been agreed.

Some exhibits have been kept on a USB memory stick which has been handed over to the defence.

Lisa Smith, a 38-year-old mother of one, from Co. Louth, has indicated through her solicitor that she will challenge the decision by the DPP that she cannot have a jury trial.

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 jihadist group Islamic State (IS) from 2015 to 2019.

Last week, a further charge was bought under the same legislation for financing terrorism with €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6 in 2015.

Special Detective Unit (SDU) Sergeant Gareth Kane served the book of evidence on Ms Smith when she appeared at Dublin District Court today.

She stood at the side of the courtroom and spoke only to her solicitor.

Judge Quirke told her that if she intended to use alibi evidence in her defence she must inform the DPP within 14 days. She explained the meaning of alibi to Ms Smith and also told her she must notify of any witnesses she may call.

Lisa Smith must reside at an address in the north-east and sign on at a Garda station twice daily, and obey an 8pm to 7am curfew. She cannot leave the jurisdiction or apply for new travel documentation, having already lost her passport. Picture: Collins Courts
Lisa Smith must reside at an address in the north-east and sign on at a Garda station twice daily, and obey an 8pm to 7am curfew. She cannot leave the jurisdiction or apply for new travel documentation, having already lost her passport. Picture: Collins Courts

Ms Smith nodded to indicate she understood.

Her surety, who had to lodge €1,000 cash of bail set at €5,000, confirmed he would continue to stand bail. He cannot be named by court order following a request from Ms Smith’s solicitor.

Ms Smith must continue obeying bail conditions including an internet and social media ban.

A date has yet to be set for her appearance in the Special Criminal Court.

Legal aid was granted for her trial to include representation of senior and junior counsel.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan said earlier that Ms Smith was anxious to prove her innocence.

Today, he received the Attorney General’s certificate about the trial venue and he told Judge Quirke that here will be a challenge. “The current evidence points to her never being part of any illegal groups and it was solely for religious purposes”, he said.

Judge Quirke told him she noted his position and she made the return for trial order having noted documents had been served on the accused.

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

After converting to Islam she left Ireland in 2015. A caliphate – a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia – had been declared and IS seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

She 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.

Lisa Smith was questioned for three days before she was charged. 

Bail conditions

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. The media cannot report her address but is allowed say she is living in the north-east of the country.

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, and obey an 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.

Charge 

The full Islamic State membership 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.

Previous Bail Ruling 

At her High Court bail hearing on December 19, 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.

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