Lisa Smith faces up to eight years in prison for Isis membership

Dundalk woman to appear at Special Criminal Court for sentencing hearing

Lisa Smith, the former Irish soldier convicted of joining the Islamic State (Isis) terror group, faces up to eight years in prison when she is sentenced this week.

The 40-year-old mother of one was found guilty by the non-jury Special Criminal Court last month of membership of an unlawful organisation after the court heard she travelled to northern Syria out of allegiance to the terrorist organisation.

She was acquitted of one count of financing terrorism in relation to a €800 payment she made to an injured Isis fighter.

The Dundalk woman is to appear before the court on Monday morning for sentencing. Under the Offences against the State Acts she faces a maximum of eight years in prison and an unlimited fine. The maximum penalty was increased from seven years in 2005 under anti-terrorism legislation.

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The court is expected to hear mitigation from Smith’s counsel Michael O’Higgins SC.

Legal sources say the circumstances of Smith’s background and the fact that there is no evidence she personally took part in terrorist activity will mean she will likely receive substantially less than the maximum terms.

The fact she has a young daughter will also lessen the potential term of imprisonment, sources predicated. However she will not benefit from the typical sentence discount for pleading guilty as she denied any allegations of criminality throughout her trial.

Announcing the verdict in May, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the prosecution had established beyond reasonable doubt that Smith travelled to Syria with her “eyes wide open” and pledged allegiance to the organisation led by terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He said that her reasons for going to Syria were “grounded in allegiance to or agreement with the views espoused by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”. He said there was no “benign” explanation for her travel and no alternative Isis that she could have been travelling to. He rejected claims that she was naive or unaware of what Isis was doing, and said she “knew full well she was not simply adhering to life under sharia law”.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times