Belfast Telegraph

Officer's widow Kate Carroll urges terror groups to turn from conflict

By Chris Kilpatrick

The widow of a police officer murdered in a dissident republican ambush has urged terror groups not to inflict the pain she has endured on any other families.

Kate Carroll spoke of her relief after an appeal against the convictions of the men responsible for the fatal gun attack was dismissed.

Describing Constable Stephen Carroll's death as "futile", his widow said she hoped the outcome would send a strong message to those still engaged in violence.

And speaking after the judgment yesterday, she told of her sympathy for the parents of his killers.

Brendan McConville (43) and 23-year-old John Paul Wootton's appeals against their convictions for the 2009 murder were dismissed after three senior judges delivered their reserved judgment.

Wearing her husband's watch, Mrs Carroll said she was determined to move forward with her life and focus on building on the work of a charity founded in his name and aimed at tackling sectarianism.

"I have a son exactly the same age as Brendan McConville and there, but for the grace of God, go I," she said.

"My parents were very strict with us and I use an awful lot of old sayings, such as 'revenge is better served up as success'.

"My revenge is going to be success. With Steve's foundation, (I will) try and help as many people as I can along the way to peace."

Judgment on the appeal had been reserved since last year and Mrs Carroll admitted feeling a huge sense of relief that her husband's killers would remain in prison.

"It has been like the biggest, blackest cloud ever," she said.

"The apprehension, the wondering, the way things have gone in the past – all I wanted was justice and this day to be over.

"It's been a long, arduous journey."

She added: "I am so so relieved. I am shaking like a leaf but I am definitely relieved."

Mrs Carroll urged those still engaged in violence in Northern Ireland to turn away from conflict. "I am just hoping now that people will take a lesson from this and move on and stop this – it's futile," she said. "Really at the end of the day you are just ruining people's lives and for what?

"There's more to life than trying to kill somebody because of a piece of land." Constable Carroll died just 48 hours after two soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA at an army base in Antrim.

The appeal was heard in Belfast High Court last year by Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Coghlin and Lord Justice Higgins.

After reviewing all the witness and forensic evidence, Sir Declan said he and his fellow appeal judges were satisfied that the original verdict had been correct. Mrs Carroll and her son Shane were present in the courtroom to hear the decision. "The surrounding circumstances in our view formed a compelling case that each of these appellants was guilty of the offences with which they were charged," said Sir Declan.

Afterwards, Mrs Carroll said she would never be able to move on from the murder.

She said she was focused on continuing the work of a charity set up in Constable Carroll's memory.

One of its aims is to promote the efforts of young people in helping to bring lasting peace to Northern Ireland.

"It's very important I can move forward, not move on, because we can never move on from Steve.

"We'll never bring Steve back from what has happened.

"At the same time, I can move forward and try to promote peace.

"The Steve I knew was happy, a fair man. He loved life, loved putting children forward in sports. He thought children were the way to go.

"I'm trying to make his dream come true and try my best to promote peace."

Background

Constable Stephen Carroll was the first member of the PSNI to be murdered when he was shot in Craigavon in 2009. He died just 48 hours after two soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA at an Army base in Antrim. In 2012 John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville were convicted of the 48-year-old's murder.

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