30 Mar 2012

**Video onsite

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in March 2009

The widow of the first PSNI officer to be murdered has spoken of her “pity and disgust” for his killers.

Kate Carroll said that dissident republicans were “fighting a losing battle” against the peace process.

Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, were found guilty of Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder on Friday.

The 48-year-old was shot dead in Craigavon on 9 March 2009.

Mrs Carroll also said that her family and the PSNI would not rest until everyone involved in the murder of her husband was brought before the courts.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott praised the bravery of the Carroll family and also highlighted the “tenacity and perseverance” of his officers and the Public Prosecution Service in bringing a successful prosecution.

McConville and Wootton will be sentenced at a later date. The pair had maintained their innocence throughout the police investigation and trial.

Hearing the verdict in court, Mrs Carroll hugged her son Shane.
Brendan McConville Brendan McConville will be sentenced for the murder of Constable Carroll at a later date

“Justice done”

Afterwards, she thanked the PSNI for “three years of tireless investigation and evidence gathering”.

“My life will never be the same again,” she said.

“I am happy that we have got this far but we have a long, long way to go yet.

“Not everyone connected with Steve’s murder has been found guilty.

“Justice has been done. I feel pity and disgust for them because we are trying to move on in Northern Ireland.

“I pity them more than anything else.”

Mrs Carroll also had a message for dissident republican terrorist groups.

“They haven’t achieved anything from when Steve was killed, from when Ronan Kerr was killed,” she said.

“They have achieved nothing. They are fighting a losing battle. Why do they do it? No one wants it anymore.”

Mr Baggott paid tribute to the murdered officer.

“Stevie Carroll was utterly committed, a servant to all and highly respected. Just a great police officer,” he said.

The PSNI chief constable complimented Mrs Carroll and her family on “their quiet dignity throughout the investigation and trial”.

“I want to thank all of my colleagues who have been involved in this investigation in securing these convictions for their tenacity and perseverence,” he added.

Mr Baggott also took the opportunity to appeal for anyone with information about terrorist of paramilitary activity to contact the police.

Joint enterprise”

During his judgement, Lord Justice Girvan expressed his sympathies to Mrs Carroll. He took three weeks to assess the evidence ahead of delivering his reserved judgements.

He told Belfast Crown Court that McConville and Wootton were “active and committed supporters of a republican campaign of violence”.

Brendan McConville will be sentenced for the murder of Constable Carroll at a later date

He said the men were “intimately involved” in the planning of the murder of Constable Carroll.

The court heard that the evidence of Witness M was crucial in convicting the two men.

He had placed McConville at the scene of the murder on the night in question. He also saw Wootton’s car parked nearby and saw it leave shortly afterwards.

Mr Girvan said that Witness M’s evidence had never been contradicted and called the murder a “joint enterprise”.

The judge said that the killing was callous and cowardly. He said that Constable Carroll was shot dead simply because he was a police officer and his identity was irrelevant to his killers.

During the trial, Wootton’s mother – 39-year-old Sharon Wootton, of the same address as her son – pleaded guilty to obstructing the police investigation into the murder.

She admitted removing computer equipment from their house ahead of police searches.