Woman who posed as Swedish model in PSNI murder bid is jailed

Christine Connor (31) imprisoned for 16 years and four months for terror offences

Mobile phone footage, taken by Christine Connor, details how she planned to attack police in Belfast. Connor has been jailed for 16 years and four months. Video: PSNI

 

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

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

The judge told Connor he believed she was dangerous and was “committed to a violent philosophy to achieve political objectives”.

Connor had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of terrorist acts.

Connor attempted to murder Northern Ireland police officers in bomb attacks by luring them into an area using fake 999 calls.

To make the explosives and fund her campaign, she enlisted the help of an Englishman and an American through social media accounts where she went by a fake name and used photographs of Swedish model Sanne Alexandra Andersson.

After months of planning, Connor launched her first attack on officers in north Belfast on May 16th, 2013. The attack failed, but she staged another attack two weeks later on May 28th.

On that date, police received a phone call from Connor claiming to be a woman called Gemma who was in danger at her home on the Crumlin Road in Belfast.

In a recording of the 999 call, Connor could be heard telling the call-handler: “I need the police. My boyfriend’s just come home and he’s smashing up the house and I don’t know what to do.”

When police responded to the emergency, she hid in a nearby alleyway and threw two blast bombs at them.

The officers escaped injury. Shrapnel from the explosives travelled up to 35m and was found lodged in nearby homes.

Terror inquiry

Following the attacks, a major terror inquiry involving police in Northern Ireland, West Mercia police and the FBI, found that Connor had used her false online identity to enlist the help of Stuart Downes (31), from Meole Brace in Shrewsbury, and Zachary Gevelinger, from the US, to stage the incidents.

It was discovered that she had communicated with both men via her “United Stuggle” Facebook page, which she had created for her one-member republican organisation.

Police uncovered a video Connor had made of the spot where she planned to launch her attack and her getaway route.

In the video, Connor filmed the walk from her home to the scene of the planned attack.

They also found the mobile phone she had used to make the hoax 999 calls in the garden of a house in the alleyway used in the May 28th attack.

When police searched her home, mobile phones, laptops and sim cards were discovered hidden inside her mattress. Officers believe she used these to communicate with her co-conspirator Downes.

Downes is believed to have helped source and purchase the explosives for Connor and then shipped them to her in Belfast.

He was arrested and charged with attempted murder, possessing explosives and causing explosions with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property on May 16th and May 28th.

He took his own life before he was due to stand trial in June 2016.

Police believe he played a “key part” in the attacks and they found footage on his phone of him testing the explosive mix.

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

Detectives found correspondence from him to Connor in her house, as well as cheques he had sent her.

The FBI searched his house in the US on behalf of the PSNI and seized computer equipment that confirmed the link to Connor.

He took his own life last month.

PA