26 Jun 2022

'Absolutely enormous' amount of material in Lisa Smith case is crashing the defence's printers, court told

Dessie O'Hare jailed by Special Criminal Court for seven years

Special Criminal Court

The "absolutely enormous" amount of material in the trial of former Defence Forces member Lisa Smith, who is accused of being a member of ISIS and of financing terrorism, is crashing the printers of the defence team, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Yesterday, Ms Smith's barrister, Michael O'Higgins SC, told the non-jury court that "the State has prepared a verbatim transcript of interviews that contains substantially more content" for the defence to review. Mr O'Higgins then applied for an adjournment to review the documents, which were given to the defence this morning before the brief hearing.

Mr O'Higgins said that the "lengthy" interview transcripts with his client, that are over 1,000 pages each, were in addition to an "absolutely enormous" amount of disclosure which presented "serious practical difficulties" when it came to downloading material.

Counsel said that Ms Smith (39) had engaged "very, very fully" in answering questions when interviewed.

"We're getting files that are absolutely enormous and there are a whole host of different formats, and my solicitor is having very significant difficulty trying to line up all the players to download the material," said counsel.

"There are additional difficulties in trying to print copies of the material," he said, adding that the defence's printers "end up regularly crashing". Counsel said that with some material "when you go to download it, it gives you a time measured in hours but it never actually finishes - it cuts out".

Ms Gerardine Small BL said the prosecution would endeavour to assist the defence with any disclosure or IT issues.

Ms Smith, from Dundalk, Co Louth, is charged with an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 for being a member of unlawful terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) between October 28, 2015 and December 1, 2019.

She is also charged under the same legislation for financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6, 2015.

Before this morning's disclosure of interview transcripts by the prosecution, Mr O'Higgins had previously described the amount of material being disclosed as "absolutely gigantic".

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt asked Mr O'Higgins about the separate issue of using a video-link for witnesses outside the jurisdiction. Mr O'Higgins said that he would prefer to have witnesses in the court for the purposes of cross-examination.

Counsel said that at least one of the witnesses in the case, who had been in Ms Smith's company for a "very significant period of time", had expressed views in her statement that "might indicate an animus towards my client".

Mr O'Higgins said that he would prefer the witness to be present in person but Mr Justice Hunt said: "Of course, but the whole point of this is that we are not in ideal circumstances."

Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, adjourned the matter to November 15 with the 12-week trial due to begin in January. Ms Smith was not required to attend today's brief hearing at the court which had been fixed as a hearing day regarding the use of video-link evidence.

Ms Smith is also excused from the November 15 hearing.

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