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Ex-soldier Lisa Smith loses appeal to reduce 15-month prison sentence for IS membership

Smith, a convert to Islam, went to Syria in 2015 and was found guilty in May of IS membership.

FORMER MEMBER OF the Defence Forces Lisa Smith has lost an appeal against the severity of her sentence to 15 months in prison for being a member of the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group.

Delivering the decision in the Court of Appeal, Justice John Edwards dismissed the appeal and said the length of the sentence was legitimately within the discretion of the sentencing.

“We are satisfied sentencing was conducted with scrupulous fairness and appropriate regard for the evidence,” he said.

The 41-year-old ex-Defence Forces member was found guilty in May of IS membership but was cleared of a separate charge of financing terrorism after a nine-week trial at Dublin’s Special Criminal Court.

It was Smith’s position that the court erred in its sentence and that it was “excessive in all circumstances”.

The judge said the court did not agree with complaints from the appellant that the sentence was “excessive”.

“It remains State policy that membership of an unlawful organisation should be a criminal offence. It is the law and we must comply with the law,” he said.

The judge said IS “challenges our democratic values, our respect for human rights and the rule of law”.

He said members are “subversive of our values and are committed to destroying them”.

He said IS showed intolerance, brutality and extreme violence in torture, beheadings, drownings and “other outrages”.

“The most egregious crimes known to man,” he said.

Smith, a convert to Islam, went to Syria in 2015 after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to travel to the country.

She had pleaded not guilty to charges of membership of IS and providing funds to benefit the group.

The maximum sentence for the offence is eight years.

Smith is also currently involved in a legal case against the UK government who are appealing a tribunal’s decision that a UK entry ban could not be imposed on her.

Before her conviction in Ireland, Smith was made subject of a UK Home Office-issued exclusion order, preventing her from entering the UK on the grounds of public security.

The UK has a legal right to exclude non-British citizens from EEA (European Economic Area) countries, including Ireland, but that does not cover those of dual nationality.

Smith’s father is originally from Belfast and her dispute with the Home Office centres on whether she is entitled to enter the UK as a result.

Smith was born in Ireland, but due to her parents being unmarried at the time, missed out on automatic British citizenship.

Her lawyers argue she is not responsible for this “accident of birth” and is entitled to be treated as a British citizen, which would result in her being allowed entry into the UK.

With reporting from Jamie McCarron

Press Association