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PSNI officer who tended to dying Constable Stephen Carroll admits faking documents amid survivor's guilt

By Staff Reporter

Published 09/06/2015

John Gillespie outside court yesterday
John Gillespie outside court yesterday
Murdered police constable Stephen Carroll

A former PSNI officer who tended to a dying colleague after dissident republicans shot him has admitted faking documents and interviews during an investigation.

A defence barrister told Newry Crown Court that John Gillespie (33) has suffered from survivor's guilt as the second officer to reply to a radio 999 call on March 9, 2009 - the first being Constable Stephen Carroll.

Constable Carroll (48) was murdered in Craigavon by a Continuity IRA gunman, the first PSNI officer to be killed by terrorists. Two men received life sentences for the murder.

Gillespie subsequently suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the court heard.

Yesterday, Gillespie was re-arraigned after changing his plea to guilty on a misconduct charge occurring from April 3, 2010, and January 8, 2013.

Gillespie's barrister said: "He attended to Const Carroll as he lay dying, his blood on his uniform.

"It left a very devastating effect on him lasting a significant period of time."

Gillespie, who now lives in Australia, had made the journey back home last month to address the charges against him.

A consultant psychologist's report stated that Gillespie had not slept a night for three years due to the traumatic effects of the CIRA shooting.

The details of the misconduct charges were described as Gillespie faking two interviews and documents as the investigating officer of a three-vehicle road crash on April 3, 2010.

He then made a false representation to the Public Prosecution Service.

The Saturday accident on the Co Down coast involved no serious injuries.

The false interviews only came to light when one of the injured parties' solicitors requested information in connection to a civil matter. The parties involved in the road accident confirmed that no police interviews had taken place.

A witness statement was also shown to be false with documents also completed falsely.

A prosecution barrister said: "The most striking feature is that there was no benefit to the defendant, it is a bizarre set of circumstances."

According to the defence, Gillespie's "sleepwalk" into the misconduct during the three-year period in question came after professional counsellors "felt they were not qualified" to deal with his experience.

"He struggled on with his work, he did not take time off, which he would have been granted in such tragic circumstances," said defence.

"He does not remember doing any of these things.

"It is inexplicable. There was no motive.

"He suffered PTSD after the death of a friend and a colleague. If we look at the medical report, we can see he feels that he should have been the one to pay the price, not Constable Carroll."

Judge Kevin Finnegan told Gillespie: "You have had to experience the death of a colleague in the most horrendous of circumstances in which you acted bravely.

"Like many men you tried to soldier on, you did not seek medical help.

"You filled out these forms just to keep functioning.

"Life has not been particularly kind to you up-to-date.

I think you deserve as fresh a start as I can give."

Gillespie was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

"This should not bar you from any employment of any kind in the future.

"I wish you well," said Judge Finnegan.

Belfast Telegraph

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