Sufficient evidence to consider verdict in Lisa Smith case, judge rules

Counsel for ex-soldier accused of Isis membership claimed she could face miscarriage of justice

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for it to consider whether former soldier Lisa Smith was a member of Islamic State (Isis) and if she funded the terrorist organisation.

Ms Smith’s lawyers had applied to the court to direct not-guilty verdicts on the grounds that there is no evidence to support the prosecution case and that to even consider a verdict could lead to a miscarriage of justice.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt on Thursday said he could see no basis as to how it would be unfair to ask the court to assess the evidence and consider verdicts. He said the prosecution case, taken at it highest, could support a conviction without necessarily leading to a miscarriage of justice. The weight to be given to the prosecution evidence, he said, is a matter for consideration during deliberations.

Referring to previous legal judgements, Mr Justice Hunt said that withdrawing a case at this stage in a trial should only be an “exceptional measure to avoid the manifest risk of wrongful conviction”.

Intent or knowledge

In relation to the funding terrorism charge, he said that there is sufficient evidence for the court to consider the intent or knowledge of the accused when she sent €800 to a man who the prosecution alleges was then a member of Isis.

Following the ruling, Michael O’Higgins SC, for Ms Smith, said he intended to call one witness, an expert on “caliphates” — states where Islamic law is imposed. The witness will be available on Monday.

Prosecuting counsel Seán Gillane SC is expected to deliver his closing speech on Tuesday before Mr O’Higgins delivers his closing address.

Ms Smith (40), from Dundalk, Co Louth, an Islamic convert and former Irish soldier, travelled to Syria in 2015 after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on all Muslims to come to the Islamic State.

She has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Isis, between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019. She has also pleaded not guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance via a Western Union money transfer to a named man on May 6th, 2015.