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Murdered officer’s grieving wife faces the hardest day of her life

By Claire McNeilly

Published 12/03/2009

A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer salutes the coffin of Stephen Paul Carroll as his remains arrive back at his home in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. The PSNI officer was gunned down late Monday by Irish Republican terrorists. Several thousand Catholics and Protestants united in a silent protest Wednesday against the Irish Republican Army dissidents who have put Northern Ireland on edge _ and its peace in doubt _ with deadly attacks that have left three dead since the weekend. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer salutes the coffin of Stephen Paul Carroll as his remains arrive back at his home in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. The PSNI officer was gunned down late Monday by Irish Republican terrorists. Several thousand Catholics and Protestants united in a silent protest Wednesday against the Irish Republican Army dissidents who have put Northern Ireland on edge _ and its peace in doubt _ with deadly attacks that have left three dead since the weekend. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Kate Carroll, the widow of Constable Stephen Paul Carroll, reacts as his coffin arrives at their home Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. The Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was gunned down late Monday by Irish Republican terrorists.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer salutes the coffin of Constable Stephen Paul Carroll, as it arrives at his home in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. Carroll was gunned down late Monday by Irish Republican terrorists.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Kate Carroll The widow of Stephen Paul Carroll reacts as the remains of Stephen arrive back to his home in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. The Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer was gunned down late Monday by the Continuity IRA as he sat in a patrol car. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Kate Carroll, the widow of Constable Stephen Paul Carroll, reacts as his coffin arrives at their home Banbridge, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, March, 11, 2009. The PSNI officer was gunned down late Monday by Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Loyalist Frankie Gallagher at rally in Belfast
Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey at Belfast rally
16-week-old Finn Johnston outside Belfast's City Hall
Thousands attend peace rally at Belfast City Hall
Thousands gather at Belfast City Hall
The scene at Derry's Guildhall Square during the vigil for peace
Guildhall Square during the vigil for peace
Mayor of Derry is the first to sign the Peace Book in the city's Guildhall, followed by longtime civil rights campaigner Ivan Cooper. The book was opened to the public following the vigil that was held in Guildhall Square
Murdered PSNI officer Stephen Carroll
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers take up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers take up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers take up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers examine the spot were gunmen fired from, with marked bullet casings on the ground, near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers arrive at the scene of a shooting near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers attend the shooting scene near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers examine the Police Service of Northern Ireland car at the scene of the shooting at Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 10, 2009. Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison)
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers take up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A police Service of Northern Ireland officer at Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 10, 2009. Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison)
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde shows his emotions at a press conference after the murder of Stephen Carroll
The shooting is understood to have happened near Lismore High School in Craigavon
Police officers cordon off the area near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March, 10,2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
The scene where a PSNI officer has died following a shooting incident in Craigavon, County Armagh
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday,March, 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. A large security presence has begun after a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer was shot dead by suspected Irish Republican terrorists. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Flowers at the scene of the fatal shootings outside Massereene army base
Flowers left at the entrance to Massereene Army Base
Flowers are left at the entrance to Massereene Army Base
A field dresing lies in the bloodsoaked road at the entrance to Massereene Army Base
Graffiti daubed on walls in West Belfast by CIRA supporters showed that all is not well in the republican camp and that dissident republicans are not supportive of latest Sinn Fein and IRA moves. This message on the Falls Road in West Belfast was painted over shortly after the picture was taken...
A woman holds back tears during a prayer service for the soldiers killed at Massereene British Army Barracks in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March 8, 2009. Two British soldiers were shot dead late Saturday and four injured by dissident Irish Republican terrorists, the first killing of British troops in Northern Ireland since 1997. Its callousness, in targeting soldiers and civilians alike, appeared calculated to inflame community tensions and undermine Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant administration. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
The front entrance to the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is seen Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
File pictures of republican dissident group, the Real IRA at a 'training camp' in the border counties of Northern Ireland taken in January 2008
A police officer patrols outside the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush Saturday that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers examine the scene at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Aerial showing Masserene army base and it's front entrance
File pictures of republican dissident group, the Real IRA at a 'training camp' in the border counties of Northern Ireland taken in January 2008
Police forensic officers examine the scene at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police forensic officers examine the scene at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
File pictures of republican dissident group, the Real IRA at a 'training camp' in the border counties of Northern Ireland taken in January 2008
A police officer talks on his phone at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush Saturday that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Security at the entrance to the Massereene army barracks in Antrim
Police Forensic officers examine the scene at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police Forensic officers examine the scene at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A security officer patrols the entrance to the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A police officers patrols at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Local parish members hold a prayer service at Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson speaks to the media in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009. The First Minister was giving his views on the deaths of two British soldiers shot late Saturday along with four injured, by dissident Irish Republican terrorists, in the first killing of British troops in Northern Ireland since 1997. Its callousness, in targeting soldiers and civilians alike, appeared calculated to inflame community tensions and undermine Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant administration. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward speaks to the media at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009 after two British soldiers were shot to death and four other people wounded in a drive-by ambush Saturday that politicians blamed on IRA dissidents. Suspected IRA dissidents who opened fire on British soldiers and pizza delivery men outside an army base shot their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground, police said Sunday. Two soldiers died and four other people, including two men delivering pizzas, remained hospitalized with serious wounds following Saturday night's attack at the entrance to Massereene army barracks in Antrim, west of Belfast. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A man leaves flowers near Massereene army barracks, in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009. Suspected IRA dissidents opened fire on British troops and pizza delivery men outside a Northern Ireland army base, killing two soldiers and wounding four other people. Police said Sunday the attackers fired on their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A man leaves flowers near Massereene army barracks, in Antrim, west of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March, 8, 2009. Suspected IRA dissidents opened fire on British troops and pizza delivery men outside a Northern Ireland army base, killing two soldiers and wounding four other people. Police said Sunday the attackers fired on their victims again as they lay wounded on the ground. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Secretary of State Shaun Woodward leaves the Massareen Army Base in Antrim today after meeting colleagues of the murdered soldiers.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Willie McRea at the scene of the attack
First Minister Peter Robinson at the scene of the attack
Representatives from the main churches who arrived at scene to pay respect
Representatives from the main churches who arrived at scene to pay respect
A masked Real IRA , (RIRA), colour party stand over the coffin of murdered dissident republican on 18/10/00
Parishioners pay respect to the families and loved ones of those affected.
Parishioners from the main churches arrived at scene to pay respect to the families and loved ones of those affected.
An abandoned car (believed to be a getaway car) on the Ranaghan Road a few miles from Massereene army base after last night's fatal shootings.
Two cars in a sealed off area outside the entrance to Massereene army base after the fatal shootings.
Forensics team searches the area
.An impromptu multi-denominational prayer services was held this afternoon at the cordon around Massareen Army Base in Antrim in memory of the murdered soldiers and the injured.
.An impromptu multi-denominational prayer services was held this afternoon at the cordon around Massareen Army Base in Antrim in memory of the murdered soldiers and the injured.

The funeral of the policeman who was murdered by dissident republicans in Co Armagh will take place tomorrow.

Constable Stephen Carroll was gunned down three days ago in Craigavon as he responded to a call for help from a distressed woman who said her house was being attacked.

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The 48-year-old father and grandfather — who is the first PSNI officer to be murdered by terrorists — was shot by the Continuity IRA as he was getting out of the police car shortly before 10pm on Monday.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph just hours after his death, his distraught widow Kate, who would have been celebrating 25 years of marriage next year, said the cold-blooded killers have taken her life away as well.

Requiem Mass will be held for Constable Carroll in St Therese’s Church in his home town of Banbridge.

The service will be led by Canon Liam Stevenson, who was at the family home on Tuesday, offering comfort to Kate, their son Shane and other family members, along with another local priest, Father Tony Carr. Afterwards, Constable Carroll will be laid to rest in St Patrick’s Cemetery.

It is understood that PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde will lead a delegation of mourners from the PSNI at tomorrow’s funeral.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan is also expected to attend, as are members of the other main political parties, including the DUP’s David Simpson, Alex Maskey and John O’Dowd from Sinn Fein, and Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy.

The First and deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, who are now in the US, called at the Carroll family home on Tuesday to offer their condolences.

Constable Carroll had lived for several years in Newbridge, Co Kildare, before moving to England and then settling in Co Down. He was due to retire next year and was looking forward to taking up a new career as a personal trainer.

Father Tony Corr said Mrs Carroll, who works at the Southern Regional College in Banbridge, was still coming to terms with her husband’s murder.

“She can’t believe it has happened,” he said.

“Stephen was so very caring and thoughtful. They had a fantastic relationship and she was just waiting on a phone call for him to say when he was coming home and instead she got a call at the door to say he had been shot.”

Constable Carroll is survived by his wife and “best friend” Kate, stepson Shane and grandchildren Dean, Katelyn, Jordan and Jake.

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