Belfast woman jailed for murder and terrorism offences after WMCTU investigation

A Belfast woman has been jailed today for 16 years and four months after pleading guilty to attempting to murder a police officer in 2013 as well as a number of terrorism offences.

West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) detectives carried out the investigation alongside Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) and West Mercia Police.

Christine Connor, 31, pleaded guilty in May to attempting to murder a police officer in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast on May 28, 2013. She also admitted possessing explosives and causing explosions with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property on May 16 and May 28, as well as preparation of terrorist acts between February 1, 2013 and May 30, 2013.

Connor’s co-defendant, 31-year-old Stuart Downes from Meole Brace in Shrewsbury also jointly faced five charges including attempted murder and possessing explosives and causing explosions with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property on May 16 and May 28. Downes had been due to stand trial but died in non-suspicious circumstances in June 2016.

Head of WMCTU, Chief Superintendent Matt Ward said: “Detectives worked closely with the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch and West Mercia Police during what was a very complex and protracted investigation over four years.

“Cases such as these highlight the concerted efforts of all forces together with the national counter terrorism network to thwart attacks and bring individuals to justice.”

Christine Connor meticulously planned the attack on police officers who were attending what they thought was a genuine emergency call for help from a member of the community who was in danger in the early hours of the morning. They had arrived at a residential address on the Crumlin Road in Belfast to try and help a vulnerable woman, but instead they were lured to a hoax call which ended in an attempt to murder them.

She planned this attack over quite a period of time and used a web of deceit and lies to enlist the help of Stuart Downes. Connor used a fictitious name and a profile picture that bore no resemblance to her when communicating online with Stuart Downes to plan the attack.

She had two attempts at murdering police officers on two separate dates and both involved her making hoax 999 calls to lure them to where she was hiding.

Her first attempt did not result in injury, although the improvised explosive device did detonate. However Christine used this as a ‘trial run’ for the attack on May 28 when she threw two IEDs at officers, which resulted in my colleagues being very badly shaken but thankfully not injured.

A claim of responsibility for the attack on May 28, 2013 made from a telephone kiosk in the Shrewsbury area formed a major part of the enquiry and resulted in the identification of Stuart Downes as a suspect.

This, together with CCTV evidence obtained in the vicinity of the May 28 attack in the Crumlin Road, resulted in the identification of Christine Connor as a suspect and subsequent investigations provided the link between Stuart Downes and Christine Connor.

A vast amount of evidence was obtained from the examination of mobile telephones, computers, media devices and on line networking sites which evidenced the conspiracy between Christine Connor and Stuart Downes.

Source:: West Midlands Police News

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