Woman jailed for three months for lying to police in Jim Wells homophobia hustings storm
A Dungannon woman who maliciously lied to police attributing homophobic remarks to then health minister Jim Wells in order "to get" him, has been jailed for three months.
Jailing a shocked looking 49-year-old Dorothy Gardner at Downpatrick Magistrates Court, Deputy District Judge Neil Rafferty said he had "thought long and hard" whether he could suspend the jail term but that "because of the aggravating features that I have outlined, I do not think it would be appropriate in this case to suspend the sentence."
Moments later however, following an application by defence barrister Noel Dillon, the judge released Gardner on her own bail of £250 pending an appeal against the jail sentence.
Speaking outside the court, South Down MLA Mr Wells said he had no sympathy for the mother-of-one who has made unsubstantiated claims she suffers from cancer.
"No I don't [feel sorry for her]," lamented the DUP politician, "I feel totally vindicated.
"This has been a terrible 18 months for me and my family, my career was totally destroyed by lies that were told about me. At last I have had my day in court my name had been cleared and I feel totally vindicated."
Giving his reaction to the jail term, Mr Wells said he was "surprised" at the custodial term but revealed he had "asked that an example be made of this lady."
Minutes before her trial was set to start last Gardner, from the Killycanavan Road, admitted wasting police time by making a false report of a crime on April 28 last year.
She had claimed in a police statement that she had attended a hustings event in Downpatrick and that Mr Wells had told the audience he believed treatment to HIV patients should be stopped.
Prosecuting lawyer Samuel Magee outlined how she further claimed he told those gathered that "mr Wells had said something along the lines of 'the facts have shown me that any child brought up by two gay men or two gay women in a family will be abused by their parents'."
Gardner also alleged in her six page statement that she had been visiting a gay couple in Rathfriland when coincidentally, Mr Wells called at the door during canvassing for the election and that she confronted him then.
Mr Magee told the court however that police investigations and statements proved that Gardner was lying as she had not been at the hustings event and didn't even know the lesbian couple in Rathfriland.