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Northern Ireland news

Christine Connor in legal bid to clear her name after being jailed for attempted murder of police officers

Christine Connor 

A so-called lone-wolf dissident republican jailed for trying to murder police officers has launched a bid to clear her name.

Christine Connor (31) is to appeal her conviction for a terrorist plot said to have involved posing online as a Swedish model to lure men into supporting her attempt to kill.

She intends to argue that the guilty verdict should be quashed because her plea was equivocal and should never have been accepted.

Senior judges are due to review the case at the Court of Appeal in Belfast later this month. Connor's solicitor, Aiden Carlin, said: "An equivocal plea is one qualified by words which, if true, indicate that the accused is in fact not guilty of the offence charged.

"In this unique case, our client told the Crown Court 'I am not guilty, but on advice I will plead guilty'. 

"This plea should not have been received by the learned trial judge but instead vacated on application."

Connor, from north Belfast, is also set to appeal the 16-year jail sentence handed down in June. Described as a staunch republican who claimed to be "at war" with the PSNI, she had pleaded guilty to a number of terrorist offences.

Charges against her involved home-made bomb attacks on police patrols lured to the city's Crumlin Road in May 2013. Her trial heard how she placed a hoax 999 call and claimed a woman living in the area was in danger.

Although the grenades detonated in the first attack no-one was injured. Twelve days later one policeman was injured when more bombs were thrown.

Detectives built a case against her based on DNA on gloves found close to the scene and CCTV footage. They also found a mobile phone, SIM cards and a laptop computer stuffed inside the mattress of a bed at her home.

According to police Connor was not aligned to any dissident republican organisations and acted alone. They also said she had exploited two men to further her aims - both of whom later took their own lives.

Her efforts to dupe them included using online photographs of a Swedish model and creating a fake social media profile, detectives said.

Connor was also jailed for possessing explosives with intent to endanger life and preparation of terrorist acts.

As well as seeking to overturn her conviction for attempted murder, her legal team will argue that the prison terms handed down were manifestly excessive.

Mr Carlin also revealed she has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman over the PSNI's decision to release exhibits from the case to the media in May this year.

"This is highly unusual and a clear breach of our client's human rights," the solicitor claimed. "Further, such disclosure is at odds with the PSNI code of conduct which requires impartiality, fairness and the presumption of innocence." 

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