Saturday 16 December 2017

Jail for woman who posed as Swedish model to lure man into pipe bomb plot

Connor given 16 years for trying to kill police officers

Swedish model Sanne Andersson, whose identity Connor used
Swedish model Sanne Andersson, whose identity Connor used

Ashleigh McDonald

A "manipulative" woman who posed as a Swedish model to entrap a man into taking part in her bid to murder police officers has been jailed.

Christine Connor (31) smiled and waved at family at Belfast Crown Court as she was sentenced to 16 years and four months for terrorist offences.

The court heard how Connor - whose address cannot be published for legal reasons - used the identity of model Sanne Andersson to lure a "rather pathetic, troubled and vulnerable" man she met online to assist her in the preparation of terrorists acts.

Stuart Downes, from Shrewsbury, England, was also charged on a number of terrorist offences linked to two separate pipe bomb incidents in north Belfast in May 2013.

Connors used a fake name and fake profile picture after befriending Downes, who later bought the components for the pipe bombs which he posted to Connor in Belfast. He also called UTV after one pipe bomb attack, claiming responsibility on behalf of the Irish Republican Movement.

The 31-year-old was on bail, but took his own life last June. Both pipe bomb attacks occurred in May 2013.

Christine Connor, who was jailed for 16 years yesterday at Belfast Crown Court
Christine Connor, who was jailed for 16 years yesterday at Belfast Crown Court

On May 16, an explosive device was placed at Ligoniel Road, while in the second incident a pipe bomb was thrown from an alleyway at an officer responding to a 999 call on the upper Crumlin Road.

In the early hours of May 28, police received a call from a woman claiming she was being attacked by her boyfriend.

The hoax call was made by Connor, and when officers responded, a pipe bomb was thrown at a constable.

The officer did not sustain serious injuries but was left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following the second pipe bomb attack, Connor was forensically linked to the alleyway where the device was thrown at police. She was arrested and quizzed by detectives but refused to answer any questions.

During her seventh interview, she handed police a pre-prepared statement saying she had been in the Crumlin Road area in the early hours of May 28 as she was a member of WeightWatchers and was out exercising.

In May of this year, Connor entered guilty pleas to six offences arising from the two bomb blasts, including a charge of attempting to murder a police officer, as well as possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

The court heard Connor's criminality was "motivated by terrorism", and that during the second incident "her intended victims were police officers carrying out a public service".

It was also told that a wealth of evidence linked Connor and Downes, which included communication via Facebook, laptops and on mobile phones.

Prosecuting barrister Ciaran Murphy QC said that Connor was "effectively caught red-handed".

Passing sentence, Judge David McFarland said that while elements of the case were "bizarre", Connor's offending was "sinister" and she "remained a danger to the public".

Connor will have to go before the Parole Commission after serving half of her sentence to determine if she is eligible for release.

Irish Independent

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