Irish Times
30 Mar 2012

A judge will deliver his verdict today in the trial of two men accused of murdering a police officer in Northern Ireland.

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in March 2009 as he responded to a 999 call.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville (40) and John Paul Wootton (20) denied shooting the long-serving officer during a nine-week non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court.

The 48-year-old, from Banbridge, Co Down, was the first police officer killed by republican terrorists since peace process reforms saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) replaced by the new-look Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001.

He was shot dead two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks in Antrim town.

Mr McConville, of Aldervale, Tullygally in Craigavon, and Mr Wootton, from Collingdale in nearby Lurgan, both declined to give evidence in their own defence.

Mr Wootton is also charged with attempting to obtain information likely to be of use to terrorists.

The court heard that in the period before the shooting the defendant had approached an individual, known as Witness E, and asked for the address of another policeman.

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

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

Constable Carroll died of a single gunshot wound to the head, sustained as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.

The prosecution claim he was lured to his death.

A brick had been thrown through the window of a house in the private development an hour earlier, prompting the occupants to call the police.

Judge Lord Justice Paul Girvan took three weeks to assess the evidence ahead of delivering his reserved judgments.

Constable Carroll’s widow Kate was an almost ever present in the public gallery of the court during the high-profile trial.