A woman whose alleged lies led to the resignation of former health minister Jim Wells MLA was in court on Tuesday for the first time.
Last Thursday at Downpatrick Magistrate’s Court, defence barrister Noel Dillon said while the case against Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner was set for trial later this month, if it was listed for review on Tuesday “there may well be progress”, and earlier he confirmed the defence team were ready for the contrast later this month.
While she was charged some months ago, Gardner has never actually physically been in court until now.
Gardner, 48, from the Killycanavan Road in Dungannon, is charged with wasting police time by knowingly making a false report to police to show that an offence had been committed by Mr Wells on April 28 last year.
The charge relates to a complaint made to the PSNI following a hustings meeting in Downpatrick where Mr Wells was alleged to have said: “All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship; the facts show that, the facts show that certainly you don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship.”
Against a background of uproar, he then added: “I say again, I say again, a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight.”
The DUP MLA has always claimed however that the recording was “doctored” and has recently lamented: “Essentially, I resigned over remarks which it now turns out I did not say - I feel a huge sense of injustice.”
It has emerged during earlier court hearings, which were adjourned for medical reports,that Ms Gardner is battling terminal cancer.
In August 2014 she was given just a year to live by medics and she has publicly spoken of her fight with the disease and how she planned to spend her final few months helping the people of Gaza.
Following her diagnosis in February 2011 the mother underwent a double mastectomy, had her glands removed and underwent four courses of chemotherapy, as well as three weeks of radiotherapy.
After she learned that her cancer was at stage three in 2014, and that she would die of the disease, she travelled to the war-torn region with four loads of aid from across Northern Ireland.
She said she would rather be doing something to help those worse off than herself, and at the same time leave a legacy of which her son, who was five at the time, could be proud of.
“I have always been a humanitarian activist,” she said.