A former Irish Defence Forces soldier who was found guilty of Islamic State (IS) membership was described as “a very vulnerable and damaged person” at a sentencing hearing on Monday.
Lisa Smith, 40, was found to have been a member of the group between 28 October 2015 and 1 December 2019.
Smith had converted to Islam, travelled to Syria after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to join the Islamic State.
She will be sentenced at a later date.
The Special Criminal Court was told that Smith was dependent, docile, self-effacing and suffering mental health issues as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Her lawyer Michael O’Higgins offered a plea of mitigation on her behalf to the three judges, RTÉ reports.
Smith wept in the dock today as the details of her childhood, her time in the army, her conversion to and practice as a Muslim, and her life in Syria were outlined.
Referring to three psychologists’ reports, he said “on a scale of grimness of one to five” Smith’s childhood and family background was “four”.
She witnessed “destructive behaviour” and was “in the midst of a mental health crisis”.
He said she joined the Irish Army at 19 years of age for security and because she needed money.
After a six-month induction period which she found “overwhelming”, she settled in.
However, she lost her religion and was looking for answers when she converted to Islam, Mr O’Higgins said, although in her quest for knowledge she “did not fully appreciate that her mentor’s views were not the norm”.
He outlined to the court the violent and abusive nature of her marriage in Syria.
Mr O’Higgins said “there was shouting and bullying”, she was “battered black and blue”, pushed, slapped with “an open hand to face, hit with fists, her nose was damaged and she sustained black eyes”.
He said she was grabbed by the hair, dragged across the room by the hair and her husband, who has since died, would make her eat as “punishment” but also deprive her of food.
Smith also spent time in the al-Hawl detention centre and other camps, which Mr O’Higgins described as “absolutely appalling and extremely frightening”.
They thought she was a disbeliever and there was an undercurrent of fear, he said.
However, he also said Smith “had resilience from her time in the army, her belief in God and that everything in this life is temporary”.
He asked that in the event of a custodial sentence, her time in the camps, her time on bail and the needs of her child be taken into consideration.
He also submitted that the offence was “at the lower end” attracting a maximum sentence of two years.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt adjourned sentencing until Friday 22 July.