Judge rejects lawyers' plea to halt Stephen Carroll murder case
The trial of two men charged with the murder of a PSNI officer will not be stopped after the judge said he was satisfied that the accused had a case to answer.
Lord Justice Girvan refused defence applications to throw out the case against Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, who are accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.
McConville and Wootton will not be giving evidence on their own behalf, their lawyers revealed yesterday.
Defence QCs Brendan Kelly and Arthur Harvey also told Belfast Crown Court their clients had been “advised accordingly” about what inferences may be drawn by the Diplock judge after refusals to give evidence.
Former Sinn Fein councillor Mc Conville (40), from Glenholme Avenue in Craigavon, and Wootton (20), from Collingdale, Lurgan, are accused of murdering Constable Carroll (48) on March 9, 2009, two days after two soldiers were gunned down outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim.
Wootton's mother Sharon Wootton, also from Collingdale, Lurgan, has already pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing police by removing a computer from her home address to another property in the area. Constable Carroll, a married man and grandfather with 24 years’ service in the police, was nearing the end of his 12-hour shift when he was sent to a 999 call-out in Lismore Manor, Craigavon, where a gunman was lying in wait 50 metres away.
He was shot as he sat in his patrol car and died from a single bullet wound to the head.
His murder was the first of a PSNI officer.
For some time before his death the authorities had warned of a rising threat emanating from the various dissident republican groupings.
Three days before Constable Carroll’s murder, then Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde announced that he had called in an undercover British Army unit to help police target dissident republicans.
The murder sparked widespread revulsion, as well as praise for the dignity his widow Kate showed.
She said after his death: “A handful can’t live in peace and are taking things to the extreme, but I hope a lesson has been learned from this. People don’t want to go back.”
The judge has now heard all of the evidence in the case and lawyers will make their final closing submissions to him today.
The trial continues.