Northern Ireland news

North Belfast woman Christine Connor had a 'primary aim of killing police officers,' court told

Christine Connor arriving in court 

A north Belfast woman accused of luring police to a bogus incident of domestic abuse had a "primary aim of killing police officers", a court has been told.

Christine Connor is accused of posing as a blonde Swedish model to strike up an online relationship with an Englishman accused of subsequently sending her component parts for pipe bombs.

The 34-year old has been charged with - and denies - six offences dating back to 2013. Connor is accused of two counts of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, two counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life, attempting to murder a police constable, and the preparation of terrorist acts.

It is the Crown's case that Connor undertook a trial run and threw a pipe-bomb in north Belfast on May 16, 2013 before launching a second attack at a police officer from an alleyway in the early hours of May 28, after luring police to the scene with a bogus 999 call.

A non-jury Belfast Crown Court heard Connor, whose address is the subject of a reporting restriction, was linked to the attacks via DNA evidence she left at the scene, CCTV footage and voice analysis.

The evidence includes a movie file found on a laptop which was concealed in a hole in the mattress of Connor's bed. The Crown say this clip, accompanied by a female commentator, is Connor undertaking a trial run.

Connor and a co-accused who is now deceased - Shrewsbury man Stuart Downes - were charged with terrorist offences in the wake of the two pipe bomb incidents.

The prosecution claims the pair met online and established a relationship in the early part of 2013, when Connor was posing as a "blonde, Swedish model" called Sanne Anderson.

Between February and May 2013, it is the Crown's case that Mr Downes "received pipe bomb parts and ensured they were delivered to Northern Ireland and to the defendant."

Judge Finnegan heard that the first pipe bomb incident occurred on May 16, 2013 when police received a 999 call from a woman saying a device had been left on a wall on Ligoniel Road. When officers arrived there was a loud bang and a plume of smoke.

The second attack was in the early hours of May 28, 2013 when a woman calling herself Gemma rang the PSNI to tearfully claim she was the victim of domestic abuse.

Police attended a house on the Crumlin Road, and as one officer was knocking the front door, a pipe bomb was thrown at another officer from a nearby alleyway.

It is claimed voice analysis shows Christine Connor made both 999 calls.

The Crown also say that other items found close to the second attack scene bore Connor's DNA. This includes her DNA on a Tesco shopping bag, on a pair of gloves recovered from the alleyway and from a hooded top.

Imprints from the sole of a woman's boot also matched a shoe imprint left in dog faeces in the alleyway, while a Nokia later linked to the 999 call was found in a garden on the Crumlin Road.

Two calls claiming responsibility were made later than day by a man who said "we are the Irish Republican Movement ... and these attacks will be frequent and often." The court was told these calls were made by a man using a phonebox in Shrewsbury.

Connor refused to answer police questions, but during her seventh interview, in a pre-prepared statement she said she was a member of Weighwatchers, and that she was in the area in the early hours as she was out walking and taking exercise. She also said she heard two loud bangs which caused her to drop her phone.

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