Lone wolf republican guilty of attempted murder of police officer and preparing acts of Terrorism

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Christine Connor

By Ashleigh McDonald

North Belfast woman Christine Connor was remanded into custody today (Wednesday) after being found guilty of offences including attempting to murder a police officer.

In a ruling that took over three hours to deliver at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Stephen Fowler told the 35-year old that she will be sentenced for four offences next month.

The charges relate to two incidents in the north of the city in May 2013.

In the first incident on May 16 she undertook a trial run and threw a pipe bomb on the Ligoneil Road, 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.

During this early morning call, Connor rang the PSNI to tearfully claim her name was Gemma and that 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.

As he tried to evade the explosion, the officer tripped on a kerb and as he lay prone, a second pipe bomb was thrown onto the road.

Connor, whose address is subject to a reporting restiction, was charged with - and denied - attempted murder, two counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and the preparation of terrorist acts.

Judge Fowler said the Crown case was built on a "combination of circumstantial, physical and forensic evidence" and that he was satisfied that Connor has searched online how to make pipe bombs.

Despite her denials of involvement in the attack on police on May 28, 2013, Judge Fowler ruled that she was "clearly involved in the planning, making and deployment of the pipe bombs," and that her intention was to kill the police officer.

Connor stood trial in a non-jury hearing at the end of last year, where she denied involvement in the attack on police.

Giving his ruling today, Judge Fowler said that having had "the benefit of seeing and hearing the defendant give evidence and be cross-examined ... I found her evasive, argumentative and, when it suited her, refused to answer questions."

After saying he was satisfied of her involvement in two incidents, Judge Fowler remanded Connor into custody and said he would sentence her on August 20th.

More to follow...

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