Police issue photos of notes found in Belfast pensioner's home in dissident republican terror probe

PSNI handout
The handwritten notes found in Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dympna Perry's home. Credit: PSNI handout

These are the handwritten notes found inside a Belfast pensioner's home which police say 'amounted to a debriefing by a number of dissident republicans'.

Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dympna Perry, of Waterville Street, was found guilty in March this year after a non-jury Diplock-style trial at Belfast Crown Court for collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to terrorists.On Wednesday, the 65-year-old was sentenced to serve four years in custody.

Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton said: “Today’s outcome follows from the search of Fionnghuala Perry’s home in Belfast on 20 February 2018.“During the search, officers from our Terrorism Investigation Unit found handwritten notes, on cigarette papers, hidden inside a perfume box. The notes, which were partially in code, were seized for forensic analysis.“Their content referred to weapons and explosives, along with the initials or names of a number of individuals who had been questioned by police following a significant firearms find in the Ballymurphy area of Belfast in September 2015.“Essentially, police assessed that the notes amounted to a debriefing by a number of dissident republicans. It’s believed this information could be of use to the New IRA, by helping them understand how those individuals had been identified.  “On 15 March of this year, the defendant was found guilty of collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to a terrorist, contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.”

Outer packaging of perfume and handwritten notes Credit: PSNI handout

During the trial, Perry's defence was that she had a reasonable excuse to have the notes in her role as a journalist writing on political and security issues.

She claimed that she didn't know what the notes meant and "could not make sense of them".

But this was rejected by trial judge Mr Justice O'Hara who stated in his March judgment: "I am satisfied beyond any doubt that the defendant is guilty of collecting or making a record likely to be useful to a terrorist.

"I reject entirely her defence that she had a reasonable excuse for her action for possessing the information.''

Passing sentence on Wednesday, Mr Justice O'Hara said: "The crime committed by this defendant on any view is a serious one.

"There are dissident republicans who, after all these years of violence and so many deaths, are still committed to more deaths and more lives ruined.

"For every individual who transports or fires a gun, or makes or plants a bomb, there have to be more people who support and enable them. The defendant is one of those people.

"In terms of recording or collecting information, it is possible to think of worst cases, for instance, collecting information about the addresses and movements of police officers or other people on the grim list of so-called legitimate targets.''

Mr Justice O'Hara said the information Perry had collected was "sinister" and "of great concern".

"Every time police police find weapons and explosives they land a blow on those who are committed to violence.

"The dissidents then respond by trying to work out what went wrong, whose fault it may have been and what steps are needed to be taken next time.

"This defendant played a role in that response in order that violence can continue."

Detective Chief Inspector Hamilton added: “Officers from our Terrorism Investigation Unit remain totally committed to investigating and disrupting criminal activity within our communities. I would encourage anyone with information, or indeed concerns, to contact us on 101.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.