Delight as PSNI officer's widow Kate Carroll begins new romance
Kate Carroll finds happiness again seven years after husband’s murder
News of a blossoming new relationship for the widow of murdered PSNI officer Stephen Carroll has been welcomed by friends and family who have wished the couple "all the happiness in the world".
Kate Carroll has spoken publicly for the first time about her new found friendship with Derek Egerton, who offered support to her in the years after her husband's death.
She said she had not been looking for a partner, and although she is happy now, she emphasised "Steve will always live on in my heart".
Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer from the newly established force to be murdered in Northern Ireland after he answered a call for help to Lismore Manor in Craigavon, Co Armagh, on the night of March 9, 2009.
At the time, the Continuity IRA claimed they were responsible for the shooting.
In an interview with a newspaper, Ms Carroll said she agreed to a coffee date with Mr Egerton and the pair have been together for only a short time.
Mrs Carroll said the new relationship had been welcomed by her late husband's family, while friends took to social media to tell of their delight that she had found happiness after the tragedy of losing her "best friend".
Ann Travers, sister of IRA terrorist victim Mary, said: "I just can't be any happier for Kate."
Meanwhile, others wished the new couple well, with one woman posting: "Glad to see you happy hon good luck to both of you xx."
Another friend wrote: "Best wishes to you Kate. I hope he looks after you and provides you with all the happiness in the world. You'll always be part of The Corps family and Steve will always be fondly remembered."
Others described the romance as "the best news in the world" after the article was published.
In the interview, Kate told of the love she shared with her husband of 27 years, adding that her new partner Derek reminds her of Stephen in many ways.
Kate and Stephen got engaged just a year after they met, and married two years later.
Stephen was originally from Epping Forest in England, although he spent his childhood living in Co Kildare, where he was schooled.
He was in the Royal Military Police when he met Kate, but decided that he wanted to be based in Northern Ireland after they wed, and so applied for a number of jobs here. The first one he landed was with the PSNI.
"He loved what he did," Kate said of her late husband's feelings about his career. "But he also loved trying to educate children. He always thought they could be the driving force for change here.
"He tried to get young people into sport, and thought that if they were playing sport they wouldn't have time to get involved in crime. That was his thinking and it would be mine as well."
Kate admits that, because of the security risks faced by PSNI officers, she often found herself having to tell people half truths, that Steve was a PE teacher, because they could never admit what his real job was, and then those same friends to whom they had "lied" turned up on her doorstep when her husband was murdered, to pay their respects.
Describing the moment she learned her husband had been killed, Kate said: "It felt like my eyes were staring into a big black tunnel. All I could think was, please don't let him have suffered. Millions of other things came into my head, like what I was going to do now without him."