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Carroll accused ‘forced PSNI man’s family to relocate’

A PSNI officer and his family had to be relocated amid claims that a teenager accused of killing Constable Stephen Carroll was gathering intelligence for terrorists, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors also alleged that cartridge discharge residue similar to the ammunition used in the shooting was found in 18-year-old John Paul Wootton’s car.

Details emerged yesterday as Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, was refused bail due to fears he may flee if released.

He is charged with the murder of Constable Carroll, who was killed in Craigavon in March.

Wootton is also accused of possessing a firearm, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, and membership of the Continuity IRA.

Crown counsel Christine Smith said the 48-year-old victim was responding to a 999 report of a broken window when two shots were fired into his police car. An initial post mortem has established he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

According to Ms Smith, Wootton, then aged 17, was arrested the day after Constable Carroll was killed and held for nearly two weeks in Antrim.

Throughout his detention he refused to answer questions or co-operate, it was claimed.

She said the investigation revealed that a Citroen Saxo car owned by the accused was parked 150 yards from the scene of the murder and driven off within minutes of the shots being fired.

“This was seen on CCTV and was put to the defendant during interview. The vehicle was seized by police and forensically examined,” the barrister told the court.

Clothing and a large quantity of cartridge discharge residue was discovered in the boot of the car. A top seized from Wootton also contained some of the residue, it was alleged.

Ms Smith claimed it was consistent with the ammunition used to murder the police officer, although final test results are not expected until the end of the month.

The court heard that searches of the Saxo and an address linked to the accused revealed written and photographic material.

A notebook with references “supportive of the Continuity IRA” was discovered along with pictures allegedly showing Wootton dressed in paramilitary uniform.

Ms Smith added: “Witness statements have been provided which state that the applicant is actively engaged in collecting information likely to be useful to a terrorist organisation.

“As a direct result a police officer and his family have had to be relocated.”

Opposing bail, the barrister claimed that if released he may remove or dispose of material still being sought by police.

She said a proposed bail address on the northern outskirts of Belfast was not suitable because he would be at risk there.

Defence counsel Paddy Lyttle QC argued that no attempt had been made to disguise or fit false plates to the Saxo, which was registered in his client’s name.

“It would be strange if a person involved in offences as suggested by the prosecution would leave himself open on such a basis,” Mr Lyttle said.

The barrister rejected claims that Wootton may flee if released by stressing the accused did not have a passport.

But refusing the bail application, Mr Justice Treacy pointed out that such documents would not be needed to cross the border.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph