Belfast Telegraph

New date for police murder trial

The trial of two men accused of murdering a policeman in Northern Ireland has been adjourned to next year after another defendant involved in the case tried to sack her legal team.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, both from Co Armagh, deny murdering Police Service of Northern Ireland Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in March 2009 and a series of other charges.

Wootton's mother, Sharon Wootton, 39, is accused of perverting the course of justice in relation to the subsequent police investigation of the dissident republican shooting. She denies the charge.

The trial, which was due to open in Belfast Crown Court, was postponed after Ms Wootton on Tuesday applied to change her solicitors, who are being funded by legal aid.

Judge Lord Justice Girvan, who said he would hear full submissions on the defendant's application on Friday, set a new trial start date of January 9 next year.

He described the "11th hour" development as "entirely regrettable" and indicated that the application would not necessarily be granted and that Ms Wootton may ultimately have to represent herself.

Constable Carroll, 48, from Banbridge, was shot dead as he responded to a 999 call in the Linsmore Manor area of Craigavon.

The murder, which was claimed by the Continuity IRA, was committed two days after two British soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA outside an Army barracks in Antrim.

McConville, from Aldervale, Tullygally,and Wootton and his mother, both from Collindale, Lurgan, stood in the dock during the proceedings.

Constable Carroll's widow Kate sat yards away in the public gallery.

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