Belfast Telegraph

Christine Connor trial: Laptop contained internet searches for 'how to make a bomb in your kitchen'

Christine Connor arriving at Belfast Court for an earlier hearing
Christine Connor arriving at Belfast Court for an earlier hearing

By Ashleigh McDonald

Internet searches on a laptop found in the mattress of a woman arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences included 'how to make a bomb in your kitchen' and 'where to buy fireworks in Belfast', a court heard.

Christine Connor is currently on trial at Belfast Crown Court on six charges arising from two incidents in the north of the city in May 2013.

The 34-year old has been charged with, and denies, two counts of possessing explosives with intent, two counts of causing an explosion with intent to endanger life, attempting to murder a police constable and the preparation of terrorist acts.

Connor's home was searched on May 29, 2013 - a day after the second pipe bomb incident - and during that search a laptop, mobile phone and other devices were located by officers who noticed a slit in a mattress in her bedroom.

As the non-jury trial entered its third week, transcripts of Connor's multiple interviews with police were read out, and apart from one pre-prepared statement, she declined to answer police questions.

At one point during questioning, she broke her silence to brand the process "a joke" and a "disgrace." She also accused police of the harassment of Irish Republicans, and of harassing her family and friends.

From the outset, Connor's solicitor told police that his client would not be commenting unless disclosure issues are put to her.

She made no comment to questions such as "were you out and about in the early hours of the morning on Monday evening into Tuesday morning?", "were you aware of the attempted murder of a police officer on Tuesday morning?", "do you hold any position in any political organisation?" and "were you in possession of explosives on the Crumlin Road?"

Connor - whose address is the subject of a reporting restriction - was also asked what she was wearing over the relevant time period, and whether she sent or received emails or used her mobile phone. These questions were not answered.

At one stage during the interview, Connor was told by an officer "if you are acting under duress, tell us now and we will deal with it". Connor declined to respond to this, and also if she was behind a claim of responsibility for the pipe bomb attack, which appeared on the Republican Network for Unity's Facebook page.

During the seventh interview, a pre-prepared statement was handed to police via her solicitor, which claimed she was a member of WeightWatchers.

In the statement, Connor said was in the Crumlin Road/Ardoyne area at the time of the early morning incident, and made the case she was out walking as part of WeightWatchers exercise programme.

The defendant also claimed she was walking near the Wineflair on the Crumlin Road when she heard two loud bangs that made her drop her mobile. She added that her hand was cut by flying debris.

After the statement was handed to police, further interviews were conducted and she again declined to comment. She refused to answer questions about her mobile phone and declined to respond when asked if she made a hoax 999 call to the emergency services prior to the second pipe bomb incident.

Connor was also questioned about information found on a laptop hidden in a mattress in her bedroom. She declined to comment on searches conducted on the Boston Bombings and on the Anarchist's Cookbook.

Other searches on the laptop included "how to make a bomb in your kitchen" and "where to buy fireworks in Belfast".

During interview, Connor was also asked - and refused to answer - questions regarding her membership of Republican Network and United Struggle - and whether or not she attacked the PSNI to try and get back into the "good books" of a man police branded a high-ranking member of the Republican movement.

Before the series of interviews concluded, Connor was again asked if she was working under duress, working with others or if she was "acting alone." She again refused to answer all the questions posed by police.

The trial is due to resume on Tuesday morning.

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