Belfast Telegraph

Expert on pipe bomb fatalities gives evidence at trial of police attack accused Christine Connor

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

By Staff Reporter

An expert in pipe bombs has given evidence at the trial of a Belfast woman accused of a terrorist attack on PSNI officers.

Former State Pathologist for Northern Ireland Jack Crane gave evidence at the trial of Christine Connor yesterday.

Professor Crane, who is now retired, published an article in June 2008 on home-made pipe bombs and examined 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 Connor.

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

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

Connor 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 gunpowder or the contents of a shotgun cartridge".

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

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 an article he wrote on pipe bombs and fatalities here between 1998 and 2002.

Professor Crane confirmed there had been 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 camera 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 same 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 on Monday.

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