Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Carroll murder case: PSNI nobbled witness, officer murder appeal judges told

By Alan Erwin

A planned new defence witness in appeals by men jailed for murdering PSNI officer Stephen Carroll has been "nobbled", senior judges were told.

Lawyers for John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville also claimed authorisation for a police surveillance operation was improperly obtained in a bid to sabotage attempts to overturn their convictions.

The allegations were made during applications for the disclosure of more material before appeal hearings get under way.

Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon, in March 2009.

McConville (42), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving a 25-year term for the killing.

Wootton (22), of Collindale, Lurgan, received a 14-year term.

Their joint appeal was originally due to be heard in April.

But days before it a man related to a key prosecution witness was arrested and held for two days before release .

This man, who cannot be identified, has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar.

According to defence lawyers, police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing evidence, and warned he would be discredited if he testified.

In the Court of Appeal, Barry Macdonald QC told judges why he does not want to come to court.

"To use the vernacular, this witness has been nobbled by the prosecution or the police," he said.

Counsel for the prosecution argued that he could have been called at the original trial, confirming that the reliability of the statement is being questioned.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "We are not prepared at this stage to order disclosure in relation to the remaining matters sought in light of prosecution indications given to us."

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