3rd Aug, 2020

Belfast woman convicted of throwing pipe bombs at police after West Midlands terror investigation

John Carlon 30th Jul, 2020

WEST MIDLANDS counter-terror cops have welcomed the conviction of a Belfast woman who attempted to kill a police officer.

Christine Connor lured an officer and his colleague with hoax calls in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast.

She then threw bombs at the police officers from an alleyway, on May 28 2013.

Connor, 35, was convicted yesterday (July 29) at Belfast Crown Court of four offences, including two counts of causing an explosion.

An investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, West Midlands Counter Terrorism unit and West Mercia Police snared Connor after she called out police before throwing pipe bombs at officers.

A judge found her guilty at a retrial this month and remanded Connor in custody ahead of sentencing on August 20.

West Midlands Police said Ms Connor stood trial and pleaded guilty in May 2017 when she admitted possessing explosives and causing explosions with intent to endanger life, as well as preparation of terrorist acts.

A co-defendant, Stuart Downes, who also jointly faced five charges including attempted murder and possessing explosives and causing explosions with intent to endanger life, has since died.

Mr Downes, 31, from Shrewsbury, was granted bail but was found dead in woodland near his home in June 2016.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands CTU Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell said: “We have continued to work closely with the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch and West Mercia Police over a number of years during this protracted investigation, the initial trial and the retrial.

“Today’s fantastic result is testament to the concerted efforts of all forces, together with the national counter terrorism network, to thwart attacks and bring individuals to justice.”

Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell, of Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Serious Crime Branch, said: “This has been a hugely complex and unusual case spanning over seven years and involving UK police services working together to gather evidence in order to place Christine Connor before the Courts.

“After pleading guilty to the offences in 2017 she was convicted, however her conviction was overturned on appeal and a re-trial was ordered.

“Today she has been found guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer and a range of other offences and she will be sentenced next month.

“This was an attack on police officers, who were carrying out their role of protecting communities. I would like to pay particular thanks to them. This was a traumatic experience for them and I acknowledge that as victims they have waited a very long time for today’s outcome.

“Today’s conviction is the result of excellent joint working between the PSNI and West Mercia Police alongside the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and we will now await the sentencing.”

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