18/12/2018

Convictions Of Woman Jailed For Attempted Murder Overturned

A woman who was jailed for attempting to murder police officers has won her post-conviction appeal and is to be granted a retrial.

Christine Connor from north Belfast was previously described as a lone-wolf dissident republican and imprisoned for 16 years in June 2017.

Senior judges, however, ruled on Tuesday 18 December 2018 that her guilty pleas were questionable and ordered a subsequent retrial.

The 32-year-old had been convicted over an alleged terrorist plot, in which she posed as a Swedish model in order to lure men into supporting her attempt to kill.

She will now be released on bail following the quashed convictions, ahead of the fresh hearing.

The original charges against Ms Connor were attempted murder, possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, causing an explosion and involvement in the preparation of terrorist acts.

The accused was suspected of involvement in home-made bomb attacks aimed at police patrols, who were lured to the city's Crumlin Road in May 2013, when she allegedly placed a hoax 999 call claiming a woman living in the area was in danger.

The grenades detonated in the first attack but no-one was injured.
News Image
Twelve days later, one officer was injured when bombs were thrown.

In the first hearing in May 2017, she replied to each of the charges: "I am not guilty, but on advice I will plead guilty."

Ms Connor launched a bid to overturn her convictions, based on the fact that the trial judge failed to intervene and examine ambiguities around her plea.

Giving evidence at the Court of Appeal, she claimed to have acted under immense pressure from her former lawyers.

Despite this, her former barrister testified that she raised no issue about her legal advice at a meeting after she entered her plea.

He told the three appeal judges she was only concerned with being wrongly depicted as a "lone-wolf terrorist".

A solicitor who represented her at the time also gave evidence that he understood she planned to plead guilty.

The prosecution had argued that the case against the defendant, which included DNA evidence and CCTV footage, was overwhelming.

But the court held that convictions based on the type of pleas she entered cannot be regarded as safe.

While on bail, Ms Connor is to abide by a curfew, electronic tagging and report to police three times a week.



(JG/CM)

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