Belfast Telegraph

Appeal move over policeman killer

A 14-year jail term handed to a member of a gang that killed a policeman in Northern Ireland has been referred to the Court of Appeal by the region's director of public prosecutions.

This came hours after the judge in Constable Stephen Carroll's murder trial said he would back a review of the sentencing guidelines that he was obliged to follow in the case.

The officer's widow, Kate, had hit out after John Paul Wootton, 21, who drove the getaway car, was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years by Lord Justice Paul Girvan, on the basis of factors including that Wootton was under 18 at the time.

The jail term was nine years less than that handed to Brendan McConville, whose coat may have been wrapped around the murder weapon.

The judge returned to court to detail how the sentence he handed down last week was dictated by guidelines that remain in place in Northern Ireland, but which have been overtaken in England where killers who claim the life of a police officer face 30 years in jail.

In the wake of Lord Justice Girvan's clarification of the guidelines that shaped his decision, the Public Prosecution Service confirmed it was ordering that the sentence be reviewed.

A spokeswoman said: "In view of the clarification by Lord Justice Girvan this morning, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, will refer the sentencing in this case to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.

"Careful consideration is being given to the terms of the reference which will be made within the statutory 28 days."

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