Northern Ireland

Pensioner on trial accused of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists

Fionnghuale Perry at an earlier hearing at Belfast Crown Court
Fionnghuale Perry at an earlier hearing at Belfast Crown Court Fionnghuale Perry at an earlier hearing at Belfast Crown Court

A WEST Belfast pensioner has gone on trial accused of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dympha Perry (65), of Waterville Street, has denied a charge of collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to terrorists, namely a security debrief regarding the police recovery of firearms, ammunition and explosives on dates between September 16, 2015 and February 21, 2018.

She has further pleaded not guilty to possessing documents or records likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Opening the prosecution case in the non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court, a lawyer said Perry's home was searched by the PSNI's Tactical Support Group. A box of Chloe perfume situated on a book case was seized.

"The box was opened and found to contain a small number of cigarette papers. These had been written on and appeared to contain information about weapons and explosives. These were seized along with an envelope and were submitted for forensic analysis. There were seven individual notes which appear to be interviews carried out by a number of different people about the seizure of firearms, ammunition and explosives seized from the home of Kevin Barry Nolan on September 17, 2015.

"The prosecution case in regards to these notes on the cigarette papers are that they represent a security debrief or investigation being carried out into the seizure of items at Kevin Nolan's home to find out what went wrong from a terrorist point of view and how the police came to find out about these items.

"Dissident republican terrorists who lost that material found in Mr Nolan's home wished to investigate how police discovered those items, to ensure this would not happen in the future and to cross reference that with any new information that came in subsequently in order to find out how police were able to find this cache of firearms, ammunition and explosives."

Trial judge Mr Justice O'Hara heard police searched Nolan's west Belfast home in 2015 and recovered Semtex explosives, approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, a handgun and silencer, a semi-automatic pistol with a silencer and magazine and two improvised detonators.

Nolan was convicted in July 2017 for having explosives and weapons with intent and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. During the police investigation into Nolan, several other people were arrested for questioning. Today, the court heard the names or initials of those other people arrested are mentioned in the notes.

Perry's fingerprints were found on an envelope in the perfume box and on one of the cigarette papers, it was claimed. The handwriting on the notes was examined and it is "strongly supported" that the defendant was the writer.

Perry was arrested on January 24, 2019, interviewed on nine occasions and made no comment.

She was subsequently charged and replied to the first offence: "I didn't collect any information for any illegal organisation. The only grouping I am a member of is the political party Saoradh.''

When the second charge was put to her, she replied: "Definitely not, not guilty.''

At hearing.