Woman jailed for attributing false homophobic remarks to DUP’s Jim Wells

South Down MLA says he has no sympathy for woman who lied to police

DUP member Jim Wells. Photograph: NI Assembly/PA

DUP member Jim Wells. Photograph: NI Assembly/PA

 

A Dungannon woman who maliciously lied to police attributing homophobic remarks to then health minister Jim Wells in order “to get” him, has been jailed for three months.

Jailing 49-year-old Dorothy Gardner at Downpatrick Magistrates Court, Deputy District Judge Neil Rafferty said he had “thought long and hard” whether he could suspend the jail term, but that “because of the aggravating features that I have outlined, I do not think it would be appropriate in this case to suspend the sentence”.

However, following an application by defence barrister Noel Dillon, the judge released Gardner on her own bail of £250 pending an appeal against the jail sentence.

Speaking outside the court, South Down MLA Mr Wells said he had no sympathy for the mother-of-one who has made unsubstantiated claims she suffers from cancer.

“No I don’t [feel sorry for her],” lamented the DUP politician, “I feel totally vindicated. This has been a terrible 18 months for me and my family, my career was totally destroyed by lies that were told about me. At last I have had my day in court, my name had been cleared and I feel totally vindicated.”

Giving his reaction to the jail term, Mr Wells said he was “surprised” at the custodial term, but revealed he had “asked that an example be made of this lady”.

Among the claims Gardner made in a police statement was that she attended a hustings event in Downpatrick where Mr Wells had told the audience he believed treatment to HIV patients should be stopped and that children of gay parents would be abused.

Paul Symington, the editor of the Down Recorder, who had chaired the hustings event, provided a statement which was markedly different from Gardner’s, outlining that Mr Wells did not make any reference to HIV patients.

A transcript of what he actually said was obtained and showed Mr Wells told the audience that “under no circumstances” would he ever support gay marriage.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, marriage is for the procreation and bringing up of children. All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship. The facts show that certainly you don’t bring up a child in a homosexual relationship. But a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected (promoting a reaction from the audience), I say again, I say again, I child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight.”