Northern Ireland

Christine Connor claimed to be 'at war' with the PSNI, court is told

Belfast court complex
Image caption Christine Connor has spent more than a year and a half in custody ahead of her trial but her bail application was refused after she refused to wear an electronic tag

A woman accused of trying to kill a police officer in a pipe bomb attack declared herself "at war with the police" on Facebook, a court has heard.

Christine Connor and co-accused Stuart Downes are both facing trial on charges linked to the Belfast attack last year.

Ms Connor is charged with attempted murder after pipe bombs were thrown at a police car in May 2013, leaving at least one officer shaken but unhurt.

Mr Downes, of Ryton Close, Shrewsbury, is charged with aiding and abetting.

Ms Connor is also accused of possessing improvised explosives with intent to endanger life, causing an explosion likely to endanger life, and preparation of a terrorist act.

The 29-year-old defendant lives in north Belfast, but her full address cannot be disclosed due to reporting restrictions.

'Dissident republican links'

Following a preliminary inquiry hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court, a judge ruled that both defendants have a case to answer over the pipe bomb attack in Ballysillan.

Mr Downes, 30, was returned for Crown Court trial on continuing bail while Ms Connor was ordered to remain in custody.

She has now spent more than a year and a half in custody ahead of her trial, and her defence team returned to court on Wednesday to ask that she also be released on bail.

However, prosecutors claimed Ms Connor has strong dissident republican links and recruited a man with no previous known allegiances to take part in the alleged murder plot.

When she was originally charged, Ms Connor had refused to stand in the dock as the offences were put to her.

Prosecution counsel set out how her release was blocked earlier this year because she objected to wearing an electronic tag.

'Bullet in post'

During the renewed bail application, the court heard claims Ms Connor could commit further offences.

The prosecutor said: "There's a number of Facebook conversations with this applicant saying she is at war with the police."

He added: "She recruited another person, Mr Downes, a person with no previous terrorist links or even republican sympathies, to become involved in this case."

The prosecution also revealed that detectives fear her co-accused could be at risk.

"There was a bullet posted to him one month ago. That was intercepted by police," the lawyer said.

"That appears to be a veiled threat to Mr Downes."

'Unfairly imposed'

However, Ms Connor's defence barrister said it was the first time any bullet had been mentioned.

He accepted his client had previously refused to wear a tag, claiming she had felt the condition to have been unfairly imposed on her alone.

When the barrister pointed out Ms Connor has already spent more than a year and a half in custody, the judge questioned whether the accused would comply with release terms.

He said: "What confidence can I have in somebody who could not even stand when asked by the court clerk?"

Refusing bail, the judge ruled that nothing had changed since her earlier objection to being electronically monitored.