UK & World News

  • 29 May 2014, 11:55

Republicans Lose PC Murder Conviction Appeal

Two men jailed for the murder of a police constable in Northern Ireland have had their convictions upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Stephen Carroll was shot dead as he sat in an unmarked police car in Craigavon, County Armagh, in March 2009, having been lured to his death by a bogus 999 call.

The 48-year-old, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first member of Northern Ireland's new police service to be murdered.

His death came two days after Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead outside Massareene Barracks in Antrim.

Brendan McConville, a former Sinn Fein councillor who quit the party after the Good Friday Agreement, and John Paul Wootton were found guilty of the killing in March 2012.

McConville, 43, of Craigavon, and Wootton, 23, of nearby Lurgan, who was just 17 years old at the time of the murder, were jailed for a minimum of 25 years and 14 years respectively.

Defence lawyers had claimed the convictions were unsafe and argued there should not be a retrial in the case.

The prosecution said the evidence of one defence witness in the appeal was "inherently unreliable".

Constable Carroll's wife Kate, who sat through every day of the trial and subsequent appeal, said she knew her worst fears had been realised when two of her husband's colleagues knocked on the door.

She said: "He always told me two of them would come if something happened, a senior officer and a policewoman.

"It was disbelief. How could it be Steve? I just felt, 'Oh my God, they've made a mistake, it can't be Steve'.

"He was always so vigilant in everything ... I thought Steve was invincible but who or how can you stop a bullet?"

Recalling the last time she saw her husband, she said: "We kissed each other goodbye and then he came back and said, 'Give me another one'. Then he said, 'If I die now, I'll die a happy man'.

"I'll never forget those last words. I have goose-bumps just thinking about them now."

She added: "I would like Steve to be remembered as the catalyst for the change in Northern Ireland.

"He was a good man and that's how I would like other people to be - be kind to one another, show one another tolerance."