Belfast Telegraph

Constable's bullet wound 'rapidly fatal', murder trial hears

The bullet wound which caused the death of Constable Stephen Carroll would have proved "rapidly fatal", Northern Ireland's State Pathologist has told the trial of the two men accused of his murder.

Giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of a former Sinn Fein councillor and a mother and son facing charges arising out of the March 2009 murder, Professor Jack Crane said the 48-year-old officer had been shot once in the head.

The pathologist said that in his post-mortem report he gave "the cause of death as a bullet wound to the head".

He said that after the single bullet had struck the skull, entering by the left ear, it had gone through the skull, fracturing the base of the skull and transecting the brainstem before exiting on the right side of the head by the right ear lobe.

"The bullet had extensively fractured the base of the skull and had transected the brainstem, and as a result would have proved rapidly fatal," said the pathologist, reading from the comments of his post-mortem report.

Professor Crane said that after he had been shot attempts were made to resuscitate Constable Carroll, which would explain the two fractured left ribs which he also found.

The policeman, he added, had a number of superficial lacerations and abrasions to his face which could have been caused by small fragments of glass from the car windscreen.

Later the court heard of a number of searches carried out at the Craigavon home of 40-year- old former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville in Glenholme Avenue, as well as at the Collindale home of 20-year-old John Paul Wootton in Lurgan - both of whom deny Constable Carroll's murder.

Wootton's 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting justice by removing a computer from her home following the shooting on March 9, 2009, just two days after two soldiers were gunned down outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim.

Officers from a number of police tactical support groups said that they had been instructed to search for a number of specific items including damp or mud-stained clothing and footwear, munitions, computers and photos or other articles connected to republican paramilitaries.

Trial judge Lord Justice Girvan heard that McConville's home was searched on two dates, the first on the day following the murder, and the second six days later on March 16. During the initial search of McConville's home police received instructions to arrest him, and although cautioned at the time, he made no reply except to say that he understood the nature of that caution.

The court heard that during both searches over 80 items of clothing were taken from the house. Furthermore, swabs for firearm and cartridge residues were taken by crime scene investigators, who also took tape lifts of fabric samples.

The trial continues today when evidence of the 'firing point' used by the gunman who shot Constable Carroll is expected to be given.

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