NEWS
20/06/2017 13:13 BST | Updated 20/06/2017 16:46 BST

Woman Jailed For 16 Years Over Police Officer Murder Bid

A woman who posed as a Swedish model to entrap a man into taking part in her bid to murder police officers has been jailed for 16 years and four months.

Christine Connor, 31, gasped as Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland imposed the sentence for the attempted murder of a police officer and other terror offences.

Judge McFarland told Connor he believed she was dangerous and was "committed to a violent philosophy to achieve political objectives".

Connor attacked police in North Belfast with blast bombs on two occasions in May 2013 after luring them into the area with fake 999 calls.

The officers escaped serious injury.

The court heard that Connor enticed Stuart Downes, from Shrewsbury, into her plot by using a fake online profile, including a fictitious name and photo of Swedish model Sanne Alexandra Andersson.

Mr Downes sourced and purchased the explosives before shipping them to Connor in Belfast.

He was arrested, questioned and charged with a series of offences linked to the May 2013 attack but took his own life last year.

Police said Connor had also enticed American man Zachary Gevelinger online using her fake identity.

Mr Gevelinger was arrested and questioned by police after he visited Connor in Hydebank Prison in July 2013.

He later took his own life.

Neither men had any previous connections to Northern Ireland.

Judge McFarland described Mr Downes as a "pitiful, troubled and vulnerable young man".

"Why he became involved with you is a mystery," he added.

Judge McFarland told Connor there were "disturbing and sinister" aspects to her relationship with Mr Downes and that she "appears to have been the controlling influence".

He said she had attempted to indoctrinate Mr Downes with her views of Irish history.

"It's within your power to manipulate others. You are committed to a violent philosophy to achieve political objectives. You have shown little remorse.

"I find you dangerous," added the judge.

A prosecution barrister told the court Connor had been motivated by terrorism and the attacks were not spur of the moment.

"(Connor) was clearly committed to violent use of these weapons with the primary purpose of killing police officers," he said.

"The case against her was overwhelming. She was caught red handed by the evidence."

A defence lawyer said Connor, who has a number of health problems, was going to find life in prison "particularly difficult" and asked the court to "extend leniency".

Upon her release from prison, Connor will spend another three years and eight months on licence.

She will be entitled to apply to the Parole Board for an earlier release.

She waved at her family in the public gallery as she was taken away by prison guards.

Outside court, PSNI Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell said he welcomed the sentence.

He said Connor is a "dangerous individual who manipulated others to her will".

He added: "She has a very twisted political ideology which she has been determined to pursue through violence.

"She is undoubtedly a dangerous individual."