Woman who falsely claimed DUP MLA Jim Wells made homophobic remarks tells him she is 'deeply sorry from the bottom of her heart'
A Co Tyrone woman who admitting lying to police by claiming former Health Minister Jim Wells had made homophobic remarks at a election hustings event has her jail term downgraded to probation and community service orders.
Dorothy Elaine Gardner (49) made a public and personal apology to Mr Wells from the dock of Downpatrick County Court today in front of the DUP MLA who was sitting in the public gallery.
Gardner said she was "deeply sorry" for what she had done and wanted to apologise to Mr Wells "from the bottom of my heart."
This came after Judge Piers Grant commented that she had yet to say sorry for her malicious actions,
Gardner was sentenced in August to three months in jail by Deputy District Judge Neil Rafferty, but he released her on bail pending an appeal.
At Downpatrick County Court on Friday Judge Piers Grant said that having considered the contents of a probation pre-sentence report and defence submissions, he was imposing 100 hours of community service and a 15 month probation order.
Commenting that there was a "fine line" between fantasy and lies, he warned Gardiner that if she breached either order or failed to complete the 100 hours, she would be brought back before him to be re sentenced and would likely face the prospect of jail.
Minutes before her trial was set to start last July Gardner, originally from Dungannon but now living on the Killucan Road in Cookstown, 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 where Mr Wells - who was then the Health Minister - had told the audience he believed treatment to HIV patients should be stopped and that children of gay parents would be abused.