Northern Ireland news

West Belfast woman (62) appears in court to deny terrorist offences

 Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dympna Perry, from Waterville Street, was charged with collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to terrorists

A 62-year-old woman from west Belfast appeared in court where she denied two terrorist offences.

Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dympna Perry, from Waterville Street, was charged with collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to terrorists between September 16, 2015 and February 21, 2018 - namely a security debrief regarding the police recovery of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

She was also charged with possessing documents or records likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely a security debrief regarding the police recovery of firearms, on February 20, 2018.

When both charges were put to Perry at Belfast Crown Court, she replied 'not guilty.'

Perry's barrister Dessie Hutton told Judge Stephen Fowler that the charges arose from a search of her home last February.

He also told the Judge that whilst the issue of possessing the notes and information "will not be disputed", the "matter of issue" is that these were part of a large amount of documentation seized during the search in early 2018.

Mr Hutton continued: "I have been instructed that the documentation provides context that would be of use to the defendant in terms of reasonable excuse."

The barrister said the defence needed to take stock of whether or not the "full inventory" of the items seized from Perry's home have now been returned.

He said: "In any event, these matters will have to be read and that will take some time. It's for that reason I am not asking for a trial date to be fixed today and I hope that the court will indulge us."

Judge Fowler agreed to review the case again in the new year.

Mr Hutton then said: "The only other matter is a bail variation application on behalf of the defendant."

Asking that the current bail conditions of both tagging and reporting to police be removed, Mr Hutton said that following a search of Perry's home last February, there was "no movement in the case, from the defendant's perspective" until her arrest in January of this year.

Pointing out that Perry was not under any bail conditions in this year-long period, Mr Hutton issued an assurance that even if these two conditions were removed, Perry will still attend court for her trial.

Mr Hutton spoke of health issues, and produced a letter from Perry's GP which confirmed she has issues with mobility and balance. The letter also stated Perry was attending hospital and was anxious about her health, with the GP asking for 'some consideration.'

When a prosecuting barrister was asked for the Crown's input, he said that when the bail conditions were imposed on Perry, they were deemed to be "necessary and proportionate."

The prosecutor accepted there was evidence to suggest her mobility was limited, and suggested altering but not completely removing the two conditions.

After listening to both the Crown and defence, Judge Fowler said: "I am satisfied she will turn up for her trial. I will remove the tag and remove the reporting restriction. This is on the basis of a serious medical condition."

The case will be reviewed in the New Year, and Perry was released ahead of her trial.

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