Belfast Telegraph

Jailed man John Paul Wootton 'not linked to murder of officer Stephen Carroll'

No evidence exists to link one of the two men jailed for murdering PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll to any actual role in the shooting, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Counsel for John Paul Wootton also hit out at the quality of forensic science used by the prosecution in the case, describing it as "lamentable".

Together with Brendan McConville, Wootton (22) is seeking to overturn his conviction for the March 2009 murder.

Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon.

McConville (42) of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wootton, from Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term.

The case against them at the non-jury trial involved DNA and other evidence.

Prosecutors contended that Wootton's car was parked close to the scene of the attack and drove off within minutes of the killing.

Gun residue was discovered on a coat linked to his co-defendant which was found in the vehicle.

But Arthur Harvey QC insisted that no role in the shooting was ever attributed to Wootton.

He said: "There was not simply a dearth but a total absence of evidence to connect the defendant to any specific act relevant to the murder of Constable Carroll."

Mr Harvey argued there was nothing to confirm the coat had been used on the night of the shooting. He claimed the scientific evidence was significantly reduced by deficiencies in the research. Recalling criticisms raised at the original trial, the barrister continued: "It failed to conform to even the most fundamental basic requirements."

Lawyers for McConville are seek ing to have former prison ombudsman Pauline McCabe and former Maghaberry jail governor Steve Rodford called to give evidence at the appeal.

An investigation by Ms McCabe into the discovery of a note containing Mr Rodford's personal details in McConville's cell in 2009 concluded that it was probably planted by a prison officer.

Mr Rodford resigned a short time after the note was found.

The appeal continues.

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