Jim Wells hustings row: Case against woman accused of wasting police time is adjourned

The case against a woman accused of wasting police time in connection with a controversy around former Stormont health minister Jim Wells has been adjourned.

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 12:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2016, 1:16 pm
Democratic Unionist Jim Wells arrives at Downpatrick Court. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner, 48, faces one charge of making a false report to police in relation to a pre-election hustings event in Downpatrick last year.

The case against Gardner, from Killycanavan Rd, Dungannon, was adjourned for four weeks at a brief hearing at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court today following a defence request for additional time for the potential compilation of medical reports.

Democratic Unionist Mr Wells faced intense criticism after a video clip from the husting event emerged in which he made remarks referencing both same-sex couples and child abuse.

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He was accused of suggesting that children brought up by same-sex couples were at more risk of abuse. While the minister apologised, he later insisted his comments had been taken out of context.

Days after the hustings in Downpatrick, Mr Wells was involved in a doorstep confrontation with a same-sex couple about his remarks while out canvassing. It was an altercation that ultimately forced his resignation.

Prosecutors examined Mr Wells’s comments at the hustings and decided not to take action against him. They took the decision after reviewing the video clip and a fuller transcript of the Downpatrick event.

It is understood prosecutors were satisfied that in exchanges not captured in the video clip, Mr Wells made clear he was arguing that children were more at risk of abuse in “unstable” relationships, be they heterosexual or same sex.