Detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch have today welcomed the decision by the Court of Appeal to increase Christine Connor’s sentence for the attempted murder of a police officer in 2013 by a further five years.
In August last year the convicted terrorist was sentenced to 20 years in custody with an extension period of 4 years under licence. She also received concurrent sentences for causing explosions and other offences.
Following today’s Court dismissal of her appeal against conviction and sentence for attempted murder of a police officer and causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property, her sentence has been increased to 25 years imprisonment accompanied by the original extended licence period of 4 years. She will also serve 15 years in prison for related explosives and terrorism offences, to run concurrently.
Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell, of Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Serious Crime Branch, said: “We have worked tirelessly over seven years to bring Christine Connor to justice for the heinous crimes she committed. Today’s judgement demonstrates that those who engage in abhorrent plans to kill our police officers, while those officers work tirelessly to protect our communities, will be brought to justice and can expect to receive lengthy sentences from our Courts.”
On 28 May 2013 police responded to a ‘999’ call reporting a domestic assault on a frightened and vulnerable female. This call was made by what appeared to be a very distressed victim. Officers were despatched to the address given and when they exited their vehicle two improvised explosive devices were thrown.
“Thankfully neither of the officers were seriously injured, however they were left extremely traumatised by this horrific experience. It is good fortune that an officer was not killed that night,” Detective Superintendent Campbell continued.
“Christine Connor callously made a call for help, pretending that her boyfriend had assaulted her and was ‘smashing up the house’. She exploited an all too familiar situation that victims find themselves in, domestic abuse, knowing that police officers would respond immediately to that call for help.
“The officers were responding to what they believed was a woman in fear of an abusive partner. They never expected to be the victims of an attempted murder bid that day when they left their homes to come on duty. Their primary focus was on keeping people safe and coming to the assistance of those in most need. Thankfully they got to go back home to their loved ones that day.
“Christine Connor did not care who she hurt or injured as she attempted to kill an officer as is demonstrated by the Appeal judge’s assessment that she had a “reckless disregard for the safety and lives of innocent residents and other civilians, such as passing motorists, in a residential area”.
“The court also made reference to the “cunning and deceit” employed by Ms Connor to lure two police officers to the scene, her “extensive planning and preparation”, her “central role in throwing the pipe bombs” and her “lack of remorse”.
“Christine Connor tried to have her conviction and sentence for these appalling crimes overturned but the court comprehensively dismissed her appeal and instead she now faces an increased period in prison. I welcome the fact the Director of Public Prosecutions referred the previous unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal and also the decision by the Court to increase the sentence.
“I hope today’s outcome sends a clear message to anyone planning on engaging in murderous activity against police officers, or any other public servants working to keep our communities safe, that there is no place for this in Northern Ireland. Our communities want to thrive and not be dragged backwards by self-serving violent terrorists.
“I would like to pay tribute to the excellent joint working between the PSNI, the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and other UK police services who worked together over the years to bring Christine Connor to justice.”