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Woman guilty of wasting police time over Jim Wells Downpatrick hustings event

By Noel McAdam

Published 25/07/2016

Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner
Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner
Jim Wells

DUP MLA Jim Wells has demanded a public apology after a woman pleaded guilty to wasting police time over a row which lead to the DUP's Jim Wells resignation as Health Minister.

Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner (48) from Dungannon pleaded guilty today to charges of “knowingly making a false report or statement” over controversial allegedly anti-gay remarks by Mr Wells at a pre-election hustings meeting last year.

The veteran South Down politician immediately hailed her admission as the first step towards his vindication and restoration of his public reputation.

“My reputation and political career were destroyed by a series of totally false reports of what I said at that hustings meeting,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“As a result of these I was for forced to resign as Health Minister and suffered months of online abuse.

“I now hope that Ms Gardner and the other individuals who sought to destroy my reputation will now publicly apologize for the huge damage they have caused me over the last 14 months".

Deputy District Judge Neil Rafferty adjourned the case until August 25 for pre-sentencing reports, saying he wanted to have “as much information as possible”.

He also said he wanted the amount of police time said to have been wasted in the case to be quantified.

Frail-looking and sitting in the dock in her parka jacket, with the hood partly raised, Ms Gardiner spoke only to confirm she understood what was happened.

Mr Rafferty told her if the probation service had not been in touch with her in the next fortnight, she should contact her solicitor.

The hearing at Downpatrick was the sixth in relation to the case and was listed at the start of proceedings as a contest.

But in the end, Ms Gardner admitted the full charge of causing “wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making a false report or statement tending to show that an offence had been committed by Mr James Wells MLA”.

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