Belfast Telegraph

Christine Connor trial hears evidence from expert on pipe bomb fatalities

Christine Connor. Picture By: Arthur Allison / Pacemaker Press.
Christine Connor. Picture By: Arthur Allison / Pacemaker Press.

By Ashleigh McDonald

The former State Pathologist for Northern Ireland gave evidence at a trial in Belfast on Thursday regarding his expertise on fatalities associated with pipe bombs.

Professor Jack Crane, who is now retired, published an article in June 2008 on home-made pipe bombs and examined the four deaths caused by such devices between 1998 and 2002.

He was asked both about the article, and the experience he has dealing with deaths associated with pipe bombs, at the trial of north Belfast woman Christine Connor.

The 34-year old defendant, whose address cannot be published due to a reporting restriction, has been charged with six offences arising from two incidents involving pipe bombs in May 2013.

It's the Crown's case that Connors was involved in the two incidents in north Belfast, one of which the prosecution believe was an attempt to murder police.

Connors has denied all six charges levelled against her, which include possessing explosives and causing an explosion with intent to endanger life.

On the third day of the non-jury trial, Professor Crane described pipe bombs as "essentially a piece of cylindrical metal piping which is packed with, usually, low order explosives like gun powder or the contents of a shot-gun cartridge.

"There's usually a cap on each end, and usually there is a small fuse projecting from it."

When asked how they are used, Prof Crane said that when the fuse is lit, it burns into the contents of the device, which causes the contents and the piping to fragment.

He added: "If there are items of shrapnel, this matter will be dispersed from the seat of the explosion."

Under cross-examination by defence barrister Tim Moloney QC, Professor Crane was asked about at article he wrote on pipe bombs and fatalities here between 1998 and 2002.

Prof Crane confirmed there were four deaths in that time period - one man who was about to throw a pipe bomb, another man who was crouched over a pipe bomb when it exploded, a policeman who died during civil unrest and a woman who appeared to be carrying a device from her home after it was thrown through her window.

He was then asked about "primary blast injuries" and "secondary blast injuries", the latter of which is a person having been struck by shrapnel. Prof Crane confirmed that of the four pipe bomb deaths, all occurred due to secondary blast injuries.

It also emerged that between 2001 and 2003 there were 250 explosions caused by pipe bombs which resulted in 104 injuries of varying severity.

As well as hearing evidence from Prof Crane, a combination of CCTV footage from cameras in north Belfast was played.

The footage shows a figure - which the Crown say is Christine Connor - in the area of a pipe bomb attack in the early hours of May 28, 2013.

Two devices exploded on the upper Crumlin Road at around 2.25am, and the figure captured on CCTV is seen in the Crumlin Road and Ardoyne areas both before and after the explosions.

The trial is due to resume in front of Judge Stephen Fowler QC next Monday.

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