PSNI widow Kate Carroll says legal case by husband’s killer over internet use in jail an ‘insult’
The widow of a murdered PSNI officer has told of her anger after learning that the man jailed for his killing is taking the Prison Service to court over internet access.
Constable Stephen Carroll (48), from Banbridge, Co Down, was the first police officer to be killed in Northern Ireland following the formation of the PSNI.
He was shot by the Continuity IRA on March 9, 2009.
Brendan McConville (48), from Craigavon, Co Armagh, is serving at least 25 years for the murder.
A second man, 28-year-old John Paul Wootton, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was handed a minimum 18-year term for his part.
Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead by dissident republicans as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon.
McConville has now launched legal action, claiming he is being denied access to online resources for his degree studies.
He claims the Prison Service failed to ensure that he can safely use computer facilities to complete an Open University course in criminology and psychology.
But the Prison Service rejected claims in the High Court last week that he wasn't offered use of the education suite and said it was open to all within the high security HMP Maghaberry.
Constable Carroll's widow, Kate, called the legal action an "insult".
She said: "It's an insult to anyone. When I saw it at first, my heart dropped, because I thought how disappointing.
"I thought jails and prisons were supposed to be for people who did bad, but they are getting treated better than you or I.
"Sometimes I think our pensioners would be better off living in jail because you'd be better treated.
"It's a horrible thing to say, but it's the truth."
Kate said her husband had been studying a degree in sports science and it was his aim to go into the public sector and look after people who had heart attacks and strokes, focusing on their exercise and diet - but this wasn't to be.
"His dream was never realised thanks to Mr McConville and his cronies," Kate said.
She continued: "It's a life versus internet access. Tell me which one you would prefer?
"I'd prefer my husband to be back here rather than worry about the internet."
Kate says her heart "sinks" every time she sees anything in connection with the convicted pair.
"It's like an insult to me, my family and Steve's family, that his life was nothing," she said.
"He was just roadkill, left there to rot, while these other people are demanding and having their every whim catered to.
"Holding the Prison Service to ransom, when there are the hospitals having to scrimp and save and cut back and people are waiting for operations.
"And this is where the taxpayers' money goes?
"It's very disappointing and very upsetting.
"I actually was fuming at the idea."
Kate says that when her husband was killed, her future died too.
"You can put it to the back of your mind sometimes, but it's always simmering.
"You maybe see a flower and you think, 'Steve used to buy me something like that'. Or you maybe see a tree and you think, 'Oh we used to have a tree like that'.
"Everything, there are little bits and pieces, smells, you name it, those things drag up the past again and sometimes I just mourn for my future - I didn't get a future.
"Steve and I had plans - the weekend before he was killed, we were planning our lives.
"I don't plan a day ahead anymore because of what happened to me.
"We had our future planned and we were just looking forward to it."
She added: "Internet access, it's minimal compared to what I've gone through and what I'm still going through at the hands of the person who killed Steve."