Belfast Telegraph

Belfast woman accused of trying to kill a PSNI officer with a pipe bomb declared herself "at war with the police"

By Alan Erwin

A woman accused of trying to kill a PSNI officer in a pipe bomb attack declared herself "at war with the police" on Facebook, a court heard today.

Prosecutors also claimed Christine Connor has strong dissident republican links and recruited a man with no previous known allegiances to take part in the alleged plot.

Details emerged as 29-year-old Connor and co-accused Stuart Downes were returned for trial on charges connected to an attack in north Belfast in May last year.

Pipe bombs were alleged thrown at a PSNI car in the Ballysillan area, leaving at least one officer shaken but unhurt.

Connor, whose address in the north of the city cannot be disclosed due to reporting restrictions, faces a charge of attempted murder.

She is also accused of possessing improvised explosives with intent to endanger life, causing an explosion likely to endanger life, and preparation of a terrorist act.

Downes, 30, of Ryton Close in Shrewsbury, England, is charged with aiding and abetting in the offences.

Following a preliminary inquiry hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court a judge ruled that both defendants have a case to answer.

Downes was returned for Crown Court trial on continuing bail while Connor was ordered to remain in custody.

She had refused to stand in the dock as the charges were put to her.

Prosecution counsel set out how her release was blocked earlier this year because she objected to wearing an electronic tag.

During a renewed bail application the court heard claims Connor could commit further offences.

The prosecutor said: "There's a number of Facebook conversations with this applicant saying she is at war with the police."

He further alleged: "She recruited another person, Mr Downes, a person with no previous terrorist links or even republican sympathies, to become involved in this case."

District Judge George Conner was also told detectives fear her co-accused could be at risk.

"There was a bullet posted to him one month ago. That was intercepted by police," the prosecution lawyer disclosed.

"That appears to be a veiled threat to Mr Downes."

Defence counsel John O'Connor stressed it was the first time any bullet had been mentioned.

He accepted Connor had previously refused to wear a tag, claiming she had felt the condition to have been unfairly imposed on her alone.

The barrister pointed out that his client has already spent more than a year and a half in custody.

Contending that any trial could last for up to three months, he added: "There are 230-plus witnesses and over 5,000 pages in relation to exhibits."

But Judge Conner questioned whether the accused would comply with release terms.

He asked: "What confidence can I have in somebody who could not even stand when asked by the court clerk?"

Refusing bail, he ruled that nothing has changed since her earlier objection to being electronically monitored.

The judge added that any objection to the ban on Connor's address being published should be lodged within 10 days.

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