Belfast Telegraph

Murdered officer Stephen Carroll's widow furious as Sinn Fein MLA questions guilt of convicted pair

By Cate McCurry

The widow of a PSNI officer who was shot dead by dissidents has criticised comments made by a Sinn Fein MLA over the conviction of the two men who murdered the constable.

Stephen Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be killed by terrorists when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009 as he responded to a 999 call.

South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney said "serious concerns" exist over Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton's convictions for the murder of the 48-year-old police officer.

He made the remarks following a visit to Maghaberry prison with other Sinn Fein representatives, where they met a number of republican prisoners and prison authorities.

"We discussed the serious concerns which exist in relation to the convictions of Brendan and his co-accused John Paul," senior Sinn Fein MLA Mr Kearney said.

Mrs Carroll said she was "furious" at the comments.

"I sat in court for 13 weeks for their trial listening to every pick of evidence that showed that they did take part in the murder plot," she said.

"If the Sinn Fein representatives sat in court for the 13 weeks that I was there and heard the damning evidence against Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, they would have a very different opinion.

"No-one will tell me that they are innocent.

"I absorbed every bit of evidence - right down to the moment the gun came out and clicked, my blood ran cold. There is full proof it was them.

"When is Steve ever going to get peace? When will we get peace as a family?

"It enrages me, I haven't got a clue why my husband was shot dead. Who gives anyone that right to take a life because they wear a uniform? I'm furious about this visit. My husband is not getting a chance to rest."

A Sinn Fein spokesman said that while they support the family's right to justice, there were "questions" over the reliability of the murder convictions.

"Sinn Fein believes that the killing of Constable Stephen Carroll was wrong and unjustifiable," they said.

"We acknowledge and understand the deep loss Kate Carroll has experienced and our sympathies are with her and her family. We support her right to justice.

"However, those who have been convicted, their legal representatives have raised serious concerns and questions over the reliability of their convictions.

"Everyone in our society is entitled to the highest standards of justice and maximum information recovery."

Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson also hit out at the Sinn Fein delegation that visited the pair, dubbed the 'Craigavon Two' by campaigners.

"This news will be traumatic for the family of Constable Stephen Carroll. These men are in prison for the murder of an innocent man who was simply doing his job," he said.

"I would raise concerns that Sinn Fein has visited these men in prison, as it only endorses what they have done. Murder is murder.

"McConville and Wootton cause pain to the victims' families on a daily basis, as the Carroll family in particular, come to terms without having Stephen at their side.

"These men are guilty of a crime, one in which an innocent police officer lost his life.

"Those responsible should be prepared to serve time."

Belfast Telegraph


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