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BBC
30 May 2012

The widow of murdered policeman Stephen Carroll has said she will meet the parents of one of his killers.

Kate Carroll said the parents of 41-year-old Brendan McConville got in contact with her through a newspaper because they were moved by her story.

“I don’t know what I’ll be saying to them but I don’t wish them any harm, and I think it’s very commendable of them to want to speak to me,” she said.

“It’s a brave thing to do and I hold no malice for them.”

Constable Carroll, 48, was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

Brendan McConville was given a 25-year minimum sentence for murder, while his co-accused John Paul Wootton, 21, was jailed for a minimum of 14 years.

‘Forgiveness’

Mrs Carroll said she was delighted when she heard of the McConville family’s offer because she hoped it would “promote peace between communities”.

“If people can see there’s forgiveness on each side, I think it can help to heal the scars in this country,” she said.

Mrs Carroll said she hoped their meeting, which was first reported by the Banbridge Leader, would also help her with her grieving process.

She said she had not spoken to McConville’s parents during the trial, but they had “nodded at each other a few times”.

“Mrs McConville had opened the door for me one day, but I hadn’t a clue who she was,” she said.

“They just seemed to be nice, decent people.

“I realise now that bad things can happen to good people.

“I’ve had my husband taken from me by their son, and I suppose they’ve had their son taken from them for what he has done.”

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Belfast Telegraph
21 May 2012

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks

Dissident republicans Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are to be sentenced for their part in the murder of a Northern Ireland police officer Stephen Carroll three years ago.

Constable Carroll was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, County Armagh, in March 2009.

Earlier this year McConville, 40, and Wootton, 20, were found guilty at Belfast Crown Court of murdering the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer and will now learn the minimum number of years they must serve in Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn, County Antrim.

Con Carroll, 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by republican terrorists since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look PSNI.

Passing verdict on McConville, of Aldervale, Tullygally in Craigavon, and Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, County Armagh, in March, Lord Justice Paul Girvan said they were guilty of a “callous and cowardly crime”.

The officer’s widow Kate Carroll, who has repeatedly spoken out against dissident republican violence since her husband’s murder, reacted to the life sentences at the time saying: “I just felt justice has been done.”

Police have pledged to hunt down the rest of the gang involved in the murder.

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

He 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.

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.

The gun used in the attack, an AK 47 assault rifle, was found hidden beneath an oil tank, wrapped in a black bin bag and clingfilm, in the garden of a house not far from where the officer was murdered.

A coat belonging to McConville which was recovered in the boot of the Citroen Saxo may have been wrapped around the gun when the shots were fired, the trial heard.

During the nine-week trial it also emerged that Wootton’s car had been fitted with a military tracking device and was under surveillance at the time Con Carroll was gunned down.

It showed the car was parked close to the murder scene at the time of the shooting and had driven close by McConville’s house later that night.

Almost a year after he was arrested, a man known as Witness M, emerged to tell police how he noticed McConville among a group of five men who had been close to the scene of the murder on the night the police were ambushed.

Months later two men came to his door and told him: “Keep your mouth shut.”

After the judgments, Mrs Carroll said she and the whole community owed Witness M a huge debt of gratitude for the “bravery and commitment” he showed in giving evidence.

Both McConville and Wootton refused to answer questions during scores of police interviews and they also decided to exercise their right not to go into the witness box and give evidence in the trial, which was heard without a jury.

McConville was a Sinn Fein councillor, serving one term in Craigavon Borough council in the late 1990s, before later parting company with the mainstream republican movement which ultimately agreed to accept the reformed policing service.

Wootton was also convicted of collecting information for the use of terrorism.

He was found guilty of trying to obtain the address of another policeman weeks before the murder.

Wootton was described by people who knew him as having a reputation for trouble that began in his teens.

He is too young to have known the Troubles but his trial heard he had shown a hatred for police and tried to secure details of an officer’s address by quizzing a youth who was dating the policeman’s daughter.

Wootton’s mother Sharon, pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing the investigation.

During the trial, the 39-year-old, from the same address as her son, admitted removing computer equipment from their house ahead of police searches.

BBC
30 Mar 2012

Constable Carroll was murdered after answering a 999 call

Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was the first police officer to be killed in Northern Ireland since the formation of the PSNI.

He was shot dead after terrorists lured police to a call-out in Lismore Manor in Craigavon on the night of the 9 March 2009.

At the time the dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, claimed they were responsible for the shooting.

Constable Carroll who was originally from the Republic of Ireland, but who had moved to England as a child, was a married man with a son and grandchildren who lived in the Banbridge area of County Down.

He had served in the police force for more than 24 years.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, were charged with his murder in May 2011.

They were also charged with possessing an AK47 assault rifle and ammunition allegedly used in the shooting at Lismore Manor.

John Paul Wootton also denied attempting to collect information on “a certain police constable” and his home address, likely to be of use to terrorists between January and March 2009.

The prosecution argued when the trial began in January that DNA and other evidence could link the two men to the Mr Carroll’s murder.

They claimed Mr Wootton’s car was parked close to the scene of the attack and drove off within minutes of the killing.

A prosecution barrister said that Mr McConville’s DNA was found on a brown jacket removed from the boot of the car and he claimed gun residue was also discovered on the coat.

A scientist told the court that DNA on three separate sites on a brown jacket found in the boot of Mr Wootton’s car had a one in a billion chance of belonging to anyone other than Mr McConville.

Despite Mr McConville’s protestations that he did not own the jacket, Faye Southam said that in her opinion “the findings are more likely to be obtained if he was the regular wearer of the jacket”.

Witness M

Her evidence was rejected by defence lawyers who argued that the coat which had Mr McConville’s DNA on it, which was found in the alleged getaway car, could have been worn by up to five other people.

The prosecution’s key evidence against Mr McConville came from a man known only as Witness M, who told the court that he had been out walking his dog on the night of the murder, and saw Mr McConville at the scene of shooting – ”the firing point” – which was at waste ground to the back of the Lismore Manor Estate and around 50 metres from where Constable Carroll had parked his patrol car.

The prosecution said this was a clear case of recognition, that Witness M had known Mr McConville since he was young, recognised him, could describe what he was wearing and that they had even ”communicated with each other”.

The defence however described Witness M as a “Walter Mitty-type character who liked to tell tales”.

They say he lied to the court ”at least twice and maybe even three times” about issues with his eyesight, and that he had changed his account of what he claims to have seen that night on four separate occasions.
Constable Stephen Paul Carroll, 48, was from Banbridge Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was the first police officer to be killed since the formation of the PSNI

The defence team had argued that the evidence was unfair to Mr McConville and should be thrown out, but the judge said, even if it was unfair, it was still admissible.

The prosecution alleged that the murder weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle from Eastern Europe, which was recovered by police from under an oil tank in a house in the Pinebank area of Craigavon, had been wrapped in the jacket when or shortly after it was fired.

They also alleged that gun residue was found on another coat discovered in a search of Mr McConville’s house at Glenholm Avenue, Craigavon.

However, an explosives expert strongly criticised the prosecution team.

The forensic scientist, who was a defence witness, said he has been constantly frustrated and found it very difficult to do his job due to the “shifting sands of the prosecution”.

He said they were inconsistent. The witness was especially critical of two forensic scientists who were prosecution witnesses and who had examined the murder weapon.

He said he was at a loss to understand why the gun had not been cleaned before it was test fired and that the lack of control in the experiments invalidated any results.

Residue

The scientist also told Belfast Crown Court that since 2006 the FBI has not used gunshot residue evidence in its cases due to the variability of results.

The court was also told that a special army intelligence unit had placed a GPS (global tracking system) into Mr Wootton’s car at some point prior to the shooting.

This, the prosecution argued, tracked the whereabouts of Mr Wootton’s car that night and showed the vehicle close to the scene at the time of the murder.

It also emerged that the tracking device was ”wiped”, and that data from the hours after the killing was lost.

Three soldiers gave evidence anonymously and failed to explain how the data was deleted from the device.

The court also heard that the army had been “very reluctant” to hand over the data from the device to the police, and that “negotiations involving the chief constable and maybe even above that level”, had taken place.

Eventually the army gave the data to detectives, but only after the PSNI had threatened to seize it under warrant.

Defence lawyers argued the prosecution case was weak and inconclusive and called for the trial to be stopped due to a lack of evidence.

They argued said “a jury must convict on substance rather than suspicion”, while the prosecution argued evidence was ”strong” and that the accused had “planned and participated in the killing”.

Defence QC Brendan Kelly for Mr McConville submitted that even if Witness M could put Mr McConville at the scene prior to the shooting, what evidence was there that he “was up to no good”.

Mr Kelly described the identification evidence as poor, and argued that a jury properly directed could not convict, unless there was supporting evidence, which he claimed the prosecution failed to produce.

Arthur Harvey QC, for Mr Wootton in opening his final submissions claimed there was a breakdown, a distortion in the forensic evidence, over a coat found in his car and the legal proofs absolutely essential to link it with the shooting and Mr Wootton.

BBC
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.

By David Young
Belfast Telegraph
30 March 2012

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville at Lisburn Magistrates Court. McConville, 40,was found guilty along with John Paul Wootton and jailed for life today for the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll.

Sitting quietly through monthly borough council meetings, Brendan McConville gave no hint of the murderous path he would ultimately follow.

The killer of Constable Stephen Carroll served one term on Craigavon council in the late 1990s as a Sinn Fein representative.

But his political career was not marked by vitriolic denunciations of British rule or the security forces.

His affiliation with Sinn Fein even surprised some, hailing as he did from a more moderate nationalist family background outside Lurgan.

One former colleague could hardly recall a single occasion when he rose in the council chamber to speak out on an issue.

“He was very quiet,” they said.

“Softly spoken, I would say mild mannered. When he was arrested I couldn’t believe it.” McConville, known to friends in Craigavon as ‘Yandi’, left the council under a cloud – it was rumoured he had a drink problem.

His parting with Sinn Fein came soon after. Mainstream republicanism’s decision to support the new look police service in 2007 was believed to be a key factor in him severing ties.

But no visible shift towards extremism followed.

“He wasn’t one for going on marches,” said a source.

“There were others you would see at the front of all those things, he wasn’t one of them.”

If the unemployed McConville was considered quiet prior to the murder, he certainly lived up to that billing when he was arrested.

He did not directly answer one police question during 43 interviews. His only utterance was in a pre-prepared statement denying any involvement in the Continuity IRA murder “I did not put the rifle to my shoulder and shoot Constable Carroll,” he insisted.

But forensic tests would prove he was involved.

A jacket owned by McConville was covered in gunshot residue. It is believed it was used to wrap up the AK47 assault rifle used to murder Con Carroll.

The garment had been found in the boot of his co-defendant’s car which was parked 250 metres from the murder scene at the time of the shooting.

A witness also told the court he had seen McConville in the area shortly before the attack.

Overweight and with ginger hair, the judge agreed that he was easy to pick out from a crowd.

When given the chance to offer an explanation during his trial, he refused, declining the opportunity to testify in his own defence.

Sporting a long ginger beard, the result of participation in a republican ‘no wash’ protest inside jail, he instead sat quietly in the dock, occasionally stroking his unkempt facial hair.

With the judge drawing an adverse inference from his failure to take the stand, ultimately his silence sealed his fate.

The softly spoken killer can now expect many more quiet days ahead as he contemplates his callous crime from a prison cell.

Two men were found guilty and jailed for life today for the murder of a police officer shot dead by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.

Telegraph.co.uk
30 Mar 2012

(L-R) Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton (Photo: PA)

Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were convicted by Lord Justice Paul Girvan at Belfast Crown Court for their part in the ambush of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Constable Stephen Carroll.

The officer, aged 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by Republican terrorists since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look PSNI.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Continuity IRA.

Some relatives wept as McConville, of Aldervale, Tully Gally, and Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, County Armagh, heard the judge pass sentence at the end of a judgment which took more than two hours to deliver.

Constable Carroll’s widow Kate embraced her son Shane as the verdicts were read out.

Outside the courtroom she hugged her husband’s police colleagues who had helped to investigate his murder.

The judge described the killing of Constable Carroll as a “callous and cowardly crime”.

Wootton was also convicted of collecting information for the use of terrorism.

He was found guilty of trying to obtain the address of another policeman weeks before the murder.

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

He 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 claimed 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.

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

During the trial, 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.

Kate Carroll told the Press Association outside court: “I’m very happy that this is all over.

“I’m so relieved. It’s been such an ordeal.

“I found the last two hours (as she listened to the judge delivering his verdict) extremely gruelling.”

News Letter
10 January 2012

TWO jackets allegedly owned by one of the men accused of murdering a policeman were found covered in gunshot residue, his trial has heard.

An Army tracking device secretly attached to the car belonging to the other man charged with shooting dead Constable Stephen Carroll placed the vehicle close to the scene of the murder in Craigavon, a prosecuting lawyer claimed.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, both from Co Armagh, deny killing the 48-year-old PSNI officer in March 2009 and other related charges.

Wootton’s mother, Sharon Wootton, 39, is also standing trial, accused of perverting the course of justice in relation to the subsequent police investigation of the dissident republican shooting. She denies the charge.

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

The Crown 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.

Presenting the Crown case against the accused on the opening day of the high-profile trial at Belfast Crown Court, the prosecuting barrister told judge Lord Justice Paul Girvan that DNA found on a brown jacket recovered from the boot of Wootton’s Citroen Saxo car indicated it was “habitually worn” by McConville.

The QC said ballistics tests on the jacket detected high levels of gunshot residue both inside and outside the garment.

“The jacket may have been wrapped around the gun when it was fired or shortly after,” the lawyer suggested.

Noting McConville’s failure to acknowledge he owned the coat, the barrister added: “It’s McConville’s coat – he’s given no alternative explanation.”

The prosecutor also revealed that traces associated with the explosive Semtex were also detected on the extra large jacket.

He said a subsequent search of McConville’s home found more ballistics particles, with a high level detected on a black coat of the same size and brand as the one from Wootton’s car boot.

A single particle was also recovered from a coffee table in McConville’s house, the court heard.

The Crown lawyer said a witness also recalled seeing McConville in the area of the shooting on the night in question.

Turning to Wootton’s alleged involvement, the barrister told the court that an Army surveillance device had been fitted to the defendant’s car in the period prior to the shooting.

He said data obtained from the tracker placed the car around 240 metres from Const Carroll’s silver Skoda police car when he was shot.

The device detected the gold-coloured Saxo driving off 10 minutes after the fatal bullet was fired, the lawyer added.

He said while the information had been downloaded from the tracker, the raw data on the device’s hard drive had since been inadvertently deleted.

McConville, from Aldervale, Tullygally, and Wootton and his mother, both from Collingdale, Craigavon, sat impassively in the dock as the trial opened.

Constable Carroll’s widow Kate sat yards away in the public gallery.

The murder, which was claimed by the Continuity IRA, was committed two days after two British soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA outside an Army barracks in Antrim.

At around 9.40pm on the night, two shots were fired from a grassy bank around 50 metres away from the police car Const Carroll was sitting in.

The AK47 assault rifle used in the attack was found in the wake of the murder hidden under an oil tanker at the back of a house in the Pinebank area of Craigavon.

The Crown lawyer explained that bin bags wrapped round the weapon were of the same brand as bags dumped close to where Wootton’s car was parked at the time of the shooting.

He said that type of bag turned out to be very rare and no similar brands were found among the 82 available in local shops and supermarkets.

Wootton’s mother is accused of moving computers from the house she lived in with her son prior to police searches and giving differing accounts of his movements on the night.

The lawyer revealed that a search of a computer Ms Wootton is accused of taking to her boyfriend’s house recovered a document related to suspected terrorist support organisation ‘Craigavon Republican Youth’.

The group’s stated aim was to “assist the full removal of British occupation from Ireland and cooperate with all republican armies”.

The QC said pictures that had been recovered from a mobile phone allegedly showed Wootton dressed in paramilitary regalia and taking part in a so-called colour party.

“That’s indicative of a terrorist engagement on the part of Wootton,” he claimed.

The barrister further claimed that a notepad found in Wootton’s car detailed minutes of various meetings in which republican colour parties were mentioned.

The Crown contends that Wootton’s vehicle was a key logistical requirement of the pre-planned plot to murder policemen.

“This was a joint enterprise between two people to kill a policeman and, unfortunately, it succeeded,” he prosecutor said.

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.

Witness E, who had been dating this policeman’s daughter, claimed he told Wootton to “f*** off” and that the man did not deserve to be shot because he was an officer.

The Crown lawyer said Wootton allegedly replied: “A cop’s a cop.”

Justice Girvan was told that the two murder accused were interviewed on numerous occasions by police – McConville 43 times, Wootton 37 – and both repeatedly refused to answer questions, with McConville only reading out a prepared statement denying involvement.

The prosecuting barrister told the judge that the plan was to murder any police officer who responded to the brick-throwing incident.

“The attack was designed to kill any police officer that attended the scene that night,” he said.

“Constable Carroll and fellow officers were lured into the area in order that a gun attack could be perpetrated on him and other officers.”

The QC described how fellow officers approached Const Carroll’s car moments after the two shots rang out and found his colleague in a state of panic.

“The passenger appeared delirious and was pointing his weapon in a number of directions,” he told the court.

“The passenger said ‘my driver’s dead’.”

The court also heard how another colleague of Const Carroll attempted in vain to save him.

“He tried to get him to respond, shouted at him, checked the left-hand side of his neck for a pulse but couldn’t get one,” the QC said.

The policeman was rushed to hospital but was declared dead soon after arrival.

At the close of the day’s proceedings, another Crown lawyer told the judge that two men who were in the house in Lismore Manor through which the brick was thrown did not want to give evidence.

Justice Girvan issued summons for both men to attend today’s hearing.

BBC
9 Jan 2012

Undercover soldiers were secretly bugging a car owned by one of two men accused of murdering policeman Stephen Carroll, a court has heard.

A prosecution lawyer said an electronic tracking device had been hidden in the car belonging to John Paul Wooton.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, and Mr Wooton, 20, deny murder and possession of an AK47 assault rifle.

Constable Carroll, 48, was shot dead on 9 March 2009.

At the time, dissident republicans, the Continuity IRA, claimed they were responsible for the shooting.

Counsel for the prosecution made his opening statement on Monday afternoon, saying DNA and other evidence could link the two to the murder.

Mr Ciaran Murphy QC said the terrorists’s plan was to kill any policeman in Craigavon after smashing a window in a private house, knowing that the PSNI would respond.

Mr Murphy said that a gunman shot Constable Carroll from a distance of 50 metres with an AK47 rifle as he drove his car into Lismore Manor, Craigavonn.

He said that Mr Wooton’s car was parked close to the scene of the attack and drove off within minutes of the killing.

He said that Mr McConville’s DNA was found on a brown jacket removed from the boot of the car and he claimed gun residue was also discovered on the coat.

Mr Murphy said that it was believed the murder weapon, which was later recovered from under an oil tank in a house in the Pinebank area of Craigavon, had been wrapped in the jacket.

He also alleged that gun residue was found on another coat discovered in a search of Mr McConville’s house at Glenholm Avenue, Lurgan.

The prosecution lawyer revealed that a witness known only as ‘M’ would give evidence that he saw Mr McConville close to the scene of the shooting shortly before the attack.

He also said that another witness would tell the trial that a GPS (global tracking system) had been put into Wooton’s car sometime prior to the shooting.

It logged the position of the car at pre-determined intervals, said Mr Murphy.

After the shooting, the witness went to the police station where the car was taken after Mr Wootton’s arrest.

Mr Murphy said the witness took out the device and put it into storage while he went on leave but on his return he discovered the data about the car’s movements for three hours after the attack had been removed from the hard-drive.

However, Mr Murphy said that experts had been able to find data to establish the car’s movements before the shooting and he claimed it was clear that Mr Wooton’s Citroen had been used to give logistical support to the killers.

‘Paramilitary uniform’

Mr Murphy said that after police seized a computer belonging to Mr Wooton, references were found on it to a group calling themselves Craigavon Republican Youth who said they aimed to remove “the British occupation from Ireland”.

A photograph was found on Mr Wooton’s mobile phone showing him dressed in paramilitary uniform, it was claimed.

The prosecution lawyer said that another witness would tell the court that Mr Wooton tried to get him to give him the address of his girlfriend, whose father was a policeman.

Mr Murphy said that during 43 interviews, Mr McConville refused to answer detectives’ questions but read out a statement saying he’d never been a member of any proscribed organisations and that he didn’t own the coat which police found in Mr Wootton’s car.

Mr Wooton was interviewed 37 times by police but didn’t make any reply, said Mr Murphy who said each of the two accused had taken part in the pre-planned attack undoubtedly with the help of others.

Constable Carroll was the first police officer to be killed since the formation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

He was a married man with children from the Banbridge area of County Down. He had served in the police force for more than 24 years.

John Paul Wooton’s mother, Sharon, 39, denies perverting the course of justice by removing a computer.

By Barry McCaffrey
TheDetail.tv
9 Jan 2012
**Via Newshound
(Photos onsite)

THE trial of two men charged with the murder of police constable Stephen Carroll will open this morning (Monday) with evidence that undercover soldiers had been secretly bugging a car belonging to one of the accused for more than a month before the shooting.

However, the court will also be told that potentially key evidence from the tracking device was destroyed while it was held inside a supposedly secure army compound just days after the murder.

Forensic science will also come under the spotlight during the proceedings with a dispute over evidence about gunshot residue forming a central element.

The trial is the latest in a series of high-profile Diplock hearings in recent months focused on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

A judge is to deliver his verdict in the next few weeks on the two men accused of the murders of two soldiers at Massereene army barracks.

Forensic evidence, particularly a new form of DNA was central to the prosecution’s case in the six-week trial which concluded before Christmas.

Meanwhile a mammoth trial is continuing of 14 men facing 97 charges of UVF crimes, including murder, on the word of two brothers who turned loyalist “supergrass”.

Constable Stephen Carroll became the first member of the PSNI to be murdered when he was shot while responding to a 999 call in Craigavon shortly before 10pm on March 9, 2009.

The killing came just 48 hours after the Massereene murders which were claimed by the Real IRA.

Within days the PSNI arrested 17 year-old John Paul Wooton and former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville in connection with the policeman’s murder.

The teenager’s Citroen Saxo car was seized by the PSNI at the same time.

Both men were later charged with murder.

Prosecution lawyers will allege that Wooton’s car was parked 150 yards from the scene of the shooting and had driven off within minutes of the killing.

McConville’s DNA is alleged to have been found on a jacket recovered from the boot of Wooton’s car, which prosecutors claim also contained gun residue from the murder weapon.

However a key part of the trial is expected to centre around McConville’s defence team’s argument that the residue found on the jacket did not come from the murder weapon.

A key prosecution witness, identified only as `M’, is expected to give evidence stating that he saw McConville close to the scene of the shooting shortly before the attack.

Prosecutors are expected to reveal how undercover soldiers from the British army’s Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) had been covertly bugging Wooton’s car for a month before the shooting and had tracked its movements on the night of Constable Carroll’s murder.

Defence lawyers are expected to raise concerns that data tracking the car’s movements three hours after the murder was mysteriously deleted from the device while it was being held in a supposedly secure army base.

The first edition of The Detail revealed that the trial is expected to hear evidence from an undercover member of the SRR unit, identified only as `PIN 8625’.

He will tell the court that two days after Constable Carroll’s murder he was ordered to go to Maydown PSNI station on the outskirts of Derry where the teenager’s car had been taken following his arrest.

‘PIN 8625’ recovered the tracking device and brought it back to SRR’s secret base.

He will tell the court that he removed the bug from Wooton’s car and left it on a bench inside a high security area of the base while he went on six days leave.

‘PIN 8625’ will tell the court that when he returned he discovered that data from the tracking device, recorded three hours after the shooting, had been mysteriously wiped.

The data relates to its movements from 1am three hours after the shooting until it was seized by police later that day.

In his initial statement to police the undercover soldier claimed that the potentially incriminating evidence contained on the tracking device was allowed to sit unsecured on a bench inside the army base while he went on extended leave.

“I returned to work six days later and discovered that all the data had been wiped off the vehicle tracking device which I had deployed against the Citroen Saxo.”

However when he gave evidence at a pre-trial hearing in May 2011, `PIN 8625’ claimed that only some data from the tracking device had been lost.

“I was asked to look and see if the information was still there, which it wasn’t.

“You were hoping to retrieve the material right up until the car was recovered by the police on 10 March, is that right?” McConville’s solicitor Peter Corrigan asked:

A: “Yes”

Q: “And were you able to obtain all that?

A: “No”

Q: “You were unable to retrieve it because someone had wiped the device is that correct?”

A: “Yes.”

Q: “Who wiped it?

A: “I don’t know.’’

Q: “Were you concerned that the device had been wiped?

A: “It was unfortunate the device had been wiped but the details covering the event had been retrieved.’’

Q: “So is it your evidence, is it, that all information up until the vehicle was taken by police was retrieved?

A: “The dates are on the download, I can’t remember. The last download would give you the date and time of the last fix.’’

Q: “You were aware that there was a gap weren’t you?

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “You were concerned about the gap naturally’’

A: “It was unfortunate.’’

Q: “Because potentially relevant evidence was lost?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Confirming how his army superiors had launched an inquiry in a bid to discover who had been responsible for destroying the evidence, he was asked:

Q: “There was an investigation wasn’t there in to who was responsible for wiping the data?’’

A: “People wanted to know why the data was erased, yes.’’

Q: “Your superiors were concerned?’’

A: “They looked in to the reasons why the data had been erased.’’

The court also heard evidence from a weapons’ contractor, identified only as witness `J’, who had supplied the device used to track Wooton’s car.

Witness `J’ was cross-examined over `PIN 8625’s assertion that the tracking device could have been wiped by accident?

Q: “There’s a set procedure isn’t there for retrieving information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A: “Yes, that’s correct.’’

Q: “There is also a set procedure for deleting information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A. “Yes. that’s correct.’’

Q: “And is it fair to say that these procedures are completely different?

“The two procedures are completely different.’’

The trial is expected to last two months.

Bobby Sands mural photo
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