Sunday 23 July 2017

Republican 'lone wolf' used model's photo to lure man into murder plot

‘Dangerous’: Christine Connor
‘Dangerous’: Christine Connor

David Young

An Irish 'lone wolf' dissident republican posed as the model fiancée of a Swedish ice hockey star to entrap a man into taking part in her bid to murder police officers.

Police branded Christine Connor "deceitful and extremely dangerous" after she pleaded guilty to a series of terror offences, including a count of attempted murder linked to a bomb attack on police in Belfast. She was not aligned to any known dissident republican grouping, instead calling her own one-member organisation United Struggle.

Officers confirmed the 31-year-old from north Belfast used a fictitious name and profile picture that "bore no resemblance to her" to entice her suspected accomplice.

It's understood she used online pictures of Swedish model, fashion designer and blogger Sanne Andersson without her knowledge. Ms Andersson is engaged to Jacob Josefson, who plays for the New Jersey Devils.

Stuart Downes (31), from Meole Brace in Shrewsbury, had been due to stand trial also but he died in June 2016. A coroner ruled he took his own life.

The attack unfolded in May 2013 when Connor hurled two pipe bombs at a police car in the Crumlin Road area of north Belfast. The officers had been responding to a hoax 999 call from an apparently vulnerable woman when they were targeted. The devices exploded but the officers escaped injury.

Two weeks earlier, Connor attempted a similar attack but the improvised explosive did not detonate.

Connor, whose address cannot be printed for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to six charges in total during a brief hearing at Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

As well as the attempted murder of a policeman, she admitted two counts of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, two counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and one charge of preparing for terrorist acts.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes, of the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch, said Connor used a "web of deceit" to enlist Downes.

She will be sentenced on June 20.

Irish Independent

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