Belfast Telegraph

Former councillor who murdererd Stephen Carroll was 'quiet'

By David Young

Sitting quietly through monthly borough council meetings, Brendan McConville gave no hint of the murderous path he would ultimately follow.

The killer of Constable Stephen Carroll served one term on Craigavon council in the late 1990s as a Sinn Fein representative.

But his political career was not marked by vitriolic denunciations of British rule or the security forces.

His affiliation with Sinn Fein even surprised some, hailing as he did from a more moderate nationalist family background outside Lurgan.

One former colleague could hardly recall a single occasion when he rose in the council chamber to speak out on an issue.

"He was very quiet," they said.

"Softly spoken, I would say mild mannered. When he was arrested I couldn't believe it." McConville, known to friends in Craigavon as 'Yandi', left the council under a cloud - it was rumoured he had a drink problem.

His parting with Sinn Fein came soon after. Mainstream republicanism's decision to support the new look police service in 2007 was believed to be a key factor in him severing ties.

But no visible shift towards extremism followed.

"He wasn't one for going on marches," said a source.

"There were others you would see at the front of all those things, he wasn't one of them."

If the unemployed McConville was considered quiet prior to the murder, he certainly lived up to that billing when he was arrested.

He did not directly answer one police question during 43 interviews. His only utterance was in a pre-prepared statement denying any involvement in the Continuity IRA murder "I did not put the rifle to my shoulder and shoot Constable Carroll," he insisted.

But forensic tests would prove he was involved.

A jacket owned by McConville was covered in gunshot residue. It is believed it was used to wrap up the AK47 assault rifle used to murder Con Carroll.

The garment had been found in the boot of his co-defendant's car which was parked 250 metres from the murder scene at the time of the shooting.

A witness also told the court he had seen McConville in the area shortly before the attack.

Overweight and with ginger hair, the judge agreed that he was easy to pick out from a crowd.

When given the chance to offer an explanation during his trial, he refused, declining the opportunity to testify in his own defence.

Sporting a long ginger beard, the result of participation in a republican 'no wash' protest inside jail, he instead sat quietly in the dock, occasionally stroking his unkempt facial hair.

With the judge drawing an adverse inference from his failure to take the stand, ultimately his silence sealed his fate.

The softly spoken killer can now expect many more quiet days ahead as he contemplates his callous crime from a prison cell.

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