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BBC
18 June 2012

The DPP wants the sentences of both men convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll referred to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient.

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

Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, were found guilty of the murder.

McConville was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years, while Wootton was told he must serve at least 14.

At the end of May it was revealed that Wootton’s sentence would be referred to the Court of Appeal, but there was no mention of McConville’s.

However, in a statement on Monday the Public Prosecution Service said: “The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, today confirmed that he has sought leave to refer the sentences imposed on both John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville to the Court of Appeal on the ground that the sentences are unduly lenient.

“The director has exercised his powers under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (as amended by section 41 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002).”

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Herald.ie
June 18 2012

Stiffer sentences for the two killers of a police officer are being sought by the Northern Ireland director of public prosecutions.

Barra McGrory QC confirmed he had sought leave to refer the jail terms to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that they were “unduly lenient”.

The widow of Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, had earlier complained that the two dissident republicans convicted of her husband’s murder should have received longer sentences.

Brendan McConville, 41, must serve a minimum 25 years and John Paul Wootton, 21, 14 years for their part in the murder of Constable Carroll, who was shot in the back of the head by a gunman who fired through the window of his unmarked police car in Craigavon, Co Armagh in March 2009.

After they were jailed by Lord Justice Paul Girvan at Belfast Crown Court, Kate Carroll attacked the difference in sentencing between Northern Ireland and England where a police officer’s killer can receive 30 years.

She said: “It gives the message out that it is fine to kill a policeman here because you can get a rap on the knuckles. Justice has been done? Not for us it has not. Stephen is still in his grave.”

Mrs Carroll added: “It should be the same everywhere. You cannot make exceptions in one country. It is disgusting.”

Later the judge issued a statement saying the sentence he handed down to Wootton was within the existing guidelines, but he would support any move to reconsider them because of the need for a greater deterrent in such crimes.

Mr McGrory had already referred Wootton’s sentence to the Court of Appeal, but said that he had sought leave to refer both sentences on the ground they were “unduly lenient.”

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.”

Gail Bell
Dromore Leader
25 May 2012
**Via Newshound

AS KATE Carroll strives this week to draw a line under the trial of her husband’s murderers, she is busying herself with an important new project which will help keep his memory alive, writes Gail Bell.

Kate is establishing the Stephen Carroll Memorial Trust with the help of Ann Doyle, who has worked in the field of voluntary reconciliation for a number of years.

Kate Carroll, wife of Constable Stephen Carroll, who was murdered by dissident Republicans in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2009 (Photo: Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker)

The project will acknowledge the efforts of young people who have made a sustained and significant difference to their community.

A ‘Beacon of Hope’ scholarship will be available to a first-year undergraduate from Northern Ireland who intends to study in the UK or Ireland and who has made a courageous contribution to a shared future.

Speaking about the scholarship to be provided under the auspices of the Trust, Kate said the holder would be a “significant agent of change”; someone who had been inspirational and innovative in their approach to securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

The scholarship will be in the region of £3,000 per year for a period of three years, providing the recipient complies with Trust guidelines on promoting its mission and values. The award holder will be presented with a Beacon of Hope trophy at the beginning of the scholarship which will be theirs to keep.

“I feel this will be a lasting legacy to Steve and an excellent way to encourage young people to build on the already positive steps which have been taken on the path towards peace and a shared future,” said Kate. “As well as the scholarship for older young people, part of the project will focus on the primary schools as we feel it is important to reach children at an impressionable age and before they can be indoctrinated or entrenched in sectarian politics and thinking.

“We thought it was time to acknowledge the peace-builders in our society because no-one else in Northern Ireland is doing it.”

Kate is also in the process of writing a book based on her life with Steve and although still very much in the early stages, she says penning her emotional “personal journey” has been a cathartic exercise and source of great comfort.

“It really is my personal journey and it documents many precious, poignant moments Steve and I had together,” she said. “I have been writing bits and pieces down on the computer as they occur to me and it has been difficult and comforting at the same time.

“One of the most difficult chapters has been writing about how we were due to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary at Ashford Castle, County Mayo, the year after Steve was murdered.

“We had intended to renew our wedding vows in what was to be a very special, romantic occasion. Instead, I went to Ashford Castle without him and spent our anniversary heartbroken.”

BBC
21 May 2012

**Video onsite

Kate Carroll said Wootton’s sentence was ‘disgusting’

The widow of murdered policeman Stephen Carroll has expressed disgust at the 14 year minimum sentence imposed on one of her husband’s killers.

John Paul Wootton, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years to be served before he is considered for parole.

Brendan McConville will serve a minimum of 25 years for the murder.

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

Outside the court, his widow Kate said she was disgusted at the term imposed on Wootton, saying he had shown no remorse.

She later added that the term would not act as a sufficient deterrent to other young people.

She said the trial had been like going through a “jail sentence of our own”.

“Stephen is never going to come back, that’s our life sentence,” she added.

“At least when they finish their sentence they can get out again, but our life sentence is for an eternity.”

McConville, 41, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and Wootton, 21, of Collindale, Lurgan, were found guilty of the murder in March.

Constable Carroll was the first member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to be murdered.

He died just 48 hours after two soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA at an army base in Antrim.

At the time of the murder the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the killing.

In a victim impact statement read out in court the constable’s widow said her husband’s death had been “heartbreaking and gutwrenching” and that she had lost her soulmate.

The judge said terrorism had been “wholly rejected, as demonstrated by the will of the people” and that any sentence had to reflect the “need for deterrence”.

‘Indoctrinated’

“No person with any sense of humanity or compassion could fail to be moved by seeing or reading of the devastation visited, because self-appointed executioners decided that they are entitled to sacrifice a life in furtherance of terrorist goals roundly rejected by right-thinking members of society,” he added.

He said those convicted had failed to show any remorse, but the statements from Constable Carroll’s family were moving.

Constable Stephen Carroll Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in March 2009

“These statements illustrate graphically the dreadful losses,” he said.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they would “take time to study the sentencing comments and the custodial terms imposed.”

Mrs Carroll said she believed not everyone connected with her husband’s murder had been caught.

“I think there are more out there, because witness M was saying in the court that he saw more than four that night, so obviously there are at least two to three people left who have to account for the murder of my husband,” she said.

She said she now wanted to start up a fund in her husband’s name and work with young children “in an effort to keep them off the streets so they won’t be indoctrinated into the same thinking as Mr McConville and Mr Wootton”.

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.

ANALYSIS: The PSNI sought to tell dissidents there is a price to pay for causing murder and despair

GERRY MORIARTY
Irish Times
31 Mar 2012

SHORTLY AFTER Lord Justice Girvan convicted former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris made a point of walking over to the chief prosecuting lawyer, Ciaran Murphy QC, to shake hands and congratulate him.

This was a big case that carried a big message, and Mr Harris’s gesture reflected the PSNI’s sense of satisfaction at the outcome, and also its sense of relief.

It was a big case too for the family of Constable Carroll. That was obvious in how his widow Kate emotionally embraced her son Shane in the public gallery of the court after the verdict was announced.

Ms Carroll said the case brought some closure, but there was a “long, long way to go yet because not everyone connected with Steve’s murder has been found guilty”.

This is undoubtedly true, because a considerable degree of planning went into the murder operation carried out by the Continuity IRA – and certainly more than two of its members were involved.

It’s not even clear that either McConville or Wootton fired the fatal shot from the AK 47 assault rifle on the night of March 9th, 2009, that killed 48-year-old Constable Carroll. But, said Lord Justice Girvan, while the evidence against the two men was circumstantial, the case was nonetheless “compelling” and they “were both intimately involved” in the murder.

Therefore there is some sense of release for the Carroll family, and a strong sense of professional achievement for the PSNI.

It was hugely important for the police that they put up a credible, thorough case against the defendants. This wasn’t just about the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll; it was about sending a message of intent to dissident republicans: while they could cause murder and despair, there would be a price to pay.

The dissidents have been involved in three high-profile murder attacks in the past three years. In January, Brian Shivers was convicted of the dissident murders in Antrim of British soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey, which happened just two days before the murder of Constable Carroll. The other defendant, leading Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, walked free.

Of the four defendants in the two cases, three were convicted of murder, which indicates the investigators put together well-constructed, if imperfect, cases. The results must also have some effect in terms of prompting others to think twice before casting their lot with the nihilistic philosophy of the dissidents.

The third major killing was that of Constable Ronan Kerr, who died in an under-car bomb attack in Omagh on April 2nd last year. Nobody has been charged with his murder, but the PSNI is actively pursuing the case and hasn’t by any measure given up hope of yet bringing charges and achieving convictions.

Ms Carroll said she pitied the killers. “They haven’t achieved anything from when Steve was killed, from when Ronan Kerr was killed,” she said.

There are old-guard purist republicans on whom such a message will have absolutely no impact. But there must be others, mindful of a fairly strong “strike” rate by the police in terms of convictions, who will pause for thought when considering taking the dissident route.

Whatever about the involvement of a veteran republican such as McConville, who transferred from Sinn Féin to the dissidents when the Provisionals embraced the new dispensation, what motivated Wootton to get involved?

He was only 17 when Constable Carroll was murdered and would have had relatively little memory of the Troubles.

“A cop’s a cop,” was his brutal and simplistic view about it all. One wonders is he any wiser now, and does he recognise any truth in what Ms Carroll also said yesterday about the dissidents? “They have achieved nothing. They are fighting a losing battle. Why do they do it? No one wants it any more.”

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.

By David Young
Belfast Telegraph
30 March 2012

John Paul Wootton at Lisburn Magistrates Court. Wootton, 20,was found guilty along with Brendan McConville and jailed for life today for the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll.

John Paul Wootton at Lisburn Magistrates Court. Wootton, 20,was found guilty along with Brendan McConville and jailed for life today for the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll.

A teenager with a reputation for trouble, John Paul Wootton believed anybody wearing a police uniform was a murder target.

“A cop’s a cop,” he coldly declared when challenged by a friend that police officers did not deserve to die.

The judge described that exchange about another policeman, two weeks before he murdered Constable Stephen Carroll, as proof of the “evil and deluded” thinking of Wootton and his dissident republican cohorts.

Then 17, he had heard his friend was dating that policeman’s daughter and was demanding he revealed his address.

“I told him he didn’t deserve to be shot because he was a cop,” the un-named witness told the court. “That’s the sort of nonsense he would talk.”

The unemployed youth, who grew up in the peace process era and knew little of the Troubles, was already under Army surveillance when he killed Constable Carroll.

A military tracking device had been secretly attached to his Citroen Saxo in the period prior to the shooting – a clear indication he was on the watch list.

Data from the bug was not able to prevent the policeman’s shooting but it placed one of the prime suspects at the scene and proved he drove off just ten minutes after the fatal shot was fired.

Wootton was arrested within hours of the attack.

He refused to speak when first quizzed by detectives and remained obstinately silent through the course of 36 further police interviews.

When it came to his trial, Wootton, by then 20 and sporting a patchy ginger beard – the consequence of a no-wash protest inside Maghaberry jail – again declined to give his version of events when afforded his right to give evidence.

It was a disposition at odds with his customary demeanour in and around the republican Drumbeg estate in Craigavon.

“He was a bit of a mouth,” said one source. “Had a reputation as a real troublemaker. When trouble flared in Drumbeg, he was usually in the middle of it. A usual suspect at riots.”

The product of a broken home, Wootton was active in dissident republicanism from a young age.

But with youth came naivety about covering his tracks.

Pictures recovered from a mobile phone showed him dressed in paramilitary regalia and taking part in a so-called colour party.

A notepad found in his beloved gold Saxo revealed the minutes he had taken of dissident republican meetings – they suggested the staging of colour parties was a favourite pursuit.

During the trial, his 39-year-old mother Sharon Wootton, who he lived with in the Collingdale area of Lurgan, pleaded guilty to obstructing the police investigation into the murder by removing computer equipment from their home.

The hard drive provided further evidence of her son’s illegal activities.

A document related to a suspected terrorist support organisation – Craigavon Republican Youth – was recovered.

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

The teenager clearly was prepared to extend his co-operation to murder.

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.”

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.

BBC
5 Mar 2012

The judge in the Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has rejected a defence application to throw out the prosecution case.

Neither defendant, Brendan McConville or John Paul Wootton, will be giving evidence.

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009 after responding to a 999 call.

Dismissing the application, Lord Justice Girvan said he was satisfied the defendants had a case to answer.

Mr McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and Mr Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny the murder.

BBC
28 Feb 2012

The judge at the Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has refused to exclude the evidence of a key prosecution witness.

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009, after responding to a 999 call.

The witness claims he saw one of the accused at the scene of the murder half an hour before the shooting took place.

The judge ruled that the evidence given by a man, known only as Witness M, was not unfair to Brendan McConville.

Mr McConville, a 40-year-old former Sinn Fein councillor from Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, both deny the murder.

Lord Justice Girvan said that police had breached part of the terrorism act by failing to carry out an identity parade when Witness M told them what he claims to have seen that night.

The judge said it was a breach of the code, but there was no bad faith on the part of the police and they did not reach their conclusions irrationally.

The defence team had wanted Witness M’s evidence thrown out, but plan to press ahead with the argument on Wednesday that there is a lack of evidence against the accused and that the trial should be stopped.

BBC
27 Feb 2012

Defence lawyers for two men accused of murdering a police officer have given the judge a list of 33 concerns about a key prosecution witness.

They want Lord Justice Girvan to throw out the man, Witness M’s, evidence.

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009, after responding to a 999 call.

John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, deny murder.

At Belfast Crown Court on Monday, the defence argued Witness M’s evidence was unfair.

Lawyers gave a written statement to the judge outlining their concerns.

Witness M puts one of the accused at the scene half an hour before the police officer was shot dead.

But the defence team has argued that Witness M has lied to the court, has eyesight problems and only reported what he claims to have seen a year after the killing.

However, the prosecution said it was a clear case of recognition.

Lawyers argued that Witness M knew Mr McConville, recognised him at the scene and even said “Hello” to him.

Lord Justice Girvan has indicated he will make a decision on the matter on Tuesday.

Depending on the outcome, the defence could make an application to have the entire trial aborted due to a lack of evidence.

The trial continues

BBC
22 Feb 2012

The alleged commander of the Continuity IRA in mid-Ulster refused to answer police questions about the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard.

Belfast Crown Court heard Eddie Breen was arrested last February but remained silent during police interviews. He was later released without charge.

John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murder.

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009, after responding to a 999 call.

Tracking device

On Wednesday, a transcript of a police interview was read to the court which outlined the accusations put to Eddie Breen by a detective.

It included that he had planned the murder and fired the gun.

The court was also told that a partial print on the magazine of the AK47 gun used in the killing matched neither Mr Breen nor Mr McConville.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Mr Wootton said his client was in his car in the area at the time of the killing, but was with a friend collecting a Chinese takeaway.

A police officer said that Mr Wootton had changed his statement about his movements which had been recorded on a tracking device hidden on his car by an Army intelligence unit.

The trial continues.

BBC
17 Feb 2012

Sharon Wootton admitted obstructing police by removing a computer from her house

The mother of one of the men accused of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll has pleaded guilty to obstructing police investigating the killing.

Sharon Wootton admitted that on a date between March 8 – 11 2009, she removed computer equipment from her Lurgan home to another address.

She had originally faced a charge of perverting the course of justice.

However, Lord Justice Girvan acquitted her of that count after the Crown offered no further evidence on it.

Wootton’s 20-year-old son John Paul Wootton from Collindale, Lurgan, and former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon both deny murdering Constable Carroll on March 9 2009.

The officer was shot dead after responding with colleagues to a 999 call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon.

Defence QC Karen Quinliven applied for continuing bail for Sharon Wootton while pre-sentence probation reports are completed.

Lord Justice Girvan adjourned passing sentence until a date to be fixed.

:::u.tv:::
15 Feb 2012

**Video onsite

A court has heard that the Army only handed over a tracking device under the alleged getaway car used in Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder, after the PSNI threatened them with a warrant to seize it.

The Detective Chief Inspector leading the investigation told Belfast Crown Court that talks, at what he called a higher level than the Chief Constable, took place to try and obtain the device.

DCI Richard Harkness said the investigation team were only given approval to “tentatively explore the information from the device” around March 23 2009, two weeks after the officer was murdered.

Between then and July 23 when it was eventually handed over, he told the court there had been discussions “at a high level, at Chief Constable level and possibly above” between the police and the military to allow the investigation team to use the tracking device on John Paul Wootton’s Citreon Saxo as evidence in the case.

DCI Harkness told defence QC Brendan Kelly that as far as he was aware, there had been a significant amount of reluctance and nervousness on the part of the MOD to hand the tracking device over.

The tracking device, which had been on Wootton’s car from February until the day after the murder, was eventually handed over four months after the killing when, as the officer put it: “My head of branch said ‘if you don’t hand this over we will execute a warrant”.

Wootton, from Collingdale, Lurgan is in the dock alongside former Sinn Fein councillor 40-year-old Brendan McConville, accused of murdering 48-year-old Constable Stephen Carroll on March 9 2009.

Wootton’s mother Sharon Wootton, also from Collingdale, Lurgan, faces a charge of perverting the course of justice on dates between 8 March 2009 and 20 October 2009.

She is alleged to have given false information to police and “removed a computer or computers from her home address believing her home address might be searched and the said computer or computers seized by police”.

Constable Carroll, a 48-year-old married man and grandfather with 24 years service in the police, was nearing the end of his 12-hour shift when he was sent to a 999 call-out in Lismore Manor, Craigavon where a gunman was lying in wait 50 metres away.

On Tuesday DCI Harkness said it was the first time in any UK police investigation that such a tracking device had been used as evidence as opposed to intelligence gathering.

His claims about MOD reluctance to hand the item over are in stark contrast to the evidence of a British Army soldier, known only by his PIN number 1104 who said that he acted as a “liason officer” between the Army and police.

He told the court there was “never any dispute to my knowledge” between the two agencies as to access to the covert tracking device.

Earlier the court heard from Witness K, a navigation specialist engineer who, like the soldiers, gave evidence from behind a screen, telling the court that when he analysed the data from the device, it showed that the Saxo had been parked in the Drumbeg estate from 7.1pm until 9.55pm on the evening of March 9 2009.

The Drumbeg estate is in very close proximity to where a gunman lay in wait with an AK47 assault rifle as 48-year-old Constable Carroll was lured to his death into Lismore Manor.

Witness K said that having checked the accuracy of the tracking device over a 24 hour period, he found that for the large majority of the time it was accurate to within four metres and at worse, placed the car’s location to within eight metres but only “for a few seconds”.

He told prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy he used the tracker’s GPS capabilities to map out where the car had been, the routes taken to various destinations and whether it was parked or moving.

On March 9, Witness K said the Saxo was at a sports pavillion in Lurgan before it drove to the Drumbeg estate, parking up at 7.1pm and remaining there until 9.55pm.

Within 20 minutes of leaving, the tracker showed the car was at Glenholme Park, close to McConville’s home at Glenholme Avenue.

The court has already heard that the fatal shot was fired at 9.42pm.

Under cross examination from McConville’s defence QC Brendan Kelly, it emerged from witness K that the tracking device is so sensitive that the co-ordinates would change slightly if either the door or boot was slammed shut.

The trial continues.

:::u.tv:::
13 Feb 2012

**Video onsite

A military witness has told a court he bugged the car of one of the men accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.

The soldier also revealed he downloaded data from the device just hours after the attack.

John Paul Wootton – from Colindale, Lurgan – and former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville, deny killing father-of-one Constable Carroll as he responded to an emergency call in Craigavon in March 2009.

The Belfast Crown Court trial has already been told that undercover soldiers had been secretly tracking 20-year-old Wootton’s car on the night of the shooting.

On Monday more details emerged about that surveillance operation from the soldier who planted the device under Wootton’s Citroen Saxo.

The military witness gave evidence from behind a curtain and was only referred to by the code name ‘PIN 8625’.

He said he was also responsible for retrieving data from the device, which was stored on a standalone computer at his base.

Just hours after Constable Carroll’s murder he was asked to do just that.

He confirmed there was some form of communication or liaison between the army and PSNI.

The court has previously been told that Wootton’s car was allegedly spotted close to the scene of the attack and drove off within minutes of the killing.

It has already been revealed an electronic bug had been placed under his vehicle, sometime before the murder.

This type of device can pinpoint the location of the car and track its movements.

The military witness also told the court that after Wootton’s car was seized by police, he retrieved went to Maydown PSNI station to retrieve the device.

There he said there was a degree of liaison with police. A police officer stood by the garage of the door while he removed the device using forensic gloves.

The soldier left the device on a side table in storage. When he returned from leave he was asked to check it and found it had been wiped.

In his words it had been “cleared down from its previous mission”.

The court also heard the army carried out an investigation to find out exactly what happened.

More military witnesses are expected to give evidence on Tuesday.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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