The murder of Constable Stephen Carroll was a set-up near a housing estate police regarded as a dissident republican stronghold, Belfast Crown Court has heard.
During the second day of the trial of a former Sinn Fein councillor and a mother and son facing charges arising out of the March 2009 murder, the court also heard of the “frantic, valiant” efforts to save the 48-year-old policeman.
Trial judge Lord Justice Girvan was told that because of the perceived danger, when police answered a 999 call that fateful night they did so in two cars.
The policewoman driver of one car told the court that as she went to lock her vehicle she heard “two cracks... one after the other”.
Jumping into the driver's seat on hearing the shots, she told her colleague to “get in, it’s a set-up”.
Earlier her male colleague said that when they had gone to Lismore Manor in Craigavon they “went in with a second car driven by Constable Carroll”.
He said Lismore was on the edge of Drumbeg estate, “known to us as a dissident republican stronghold”.
He said he was taking paperwork from the rear of his police car when he heard “two gunshots in quick succession, about a second between them”, and immediately took cover behind the car.
His driver, he said, ordered them to “get into the car and we'll get out of here”, however it was at this point that he was told Constable Carroll had been shot dead.
The policewoman driver also reported that one of their colleagues pointed his gun at them immediately after the shooting.
“I thought he did not recognise me as police... but then his gun went down and another officer beckoned me with his hand to come over. I spoke to him and asked if he was all right, and he said ‘my driver’s dead’,” she added.
One of the first back-up officers on the scene told of running to Constable Carroll's car, its rear windscreen shot out, and finding the policeman slumped forward.
The officer said he “tried for a pulse, but couldn't get one”..
Earlier the court heard that despite all efforts medical staff at Craigavon Area Hospital were forced to accept “he had received an unsurvivable injury”.
As details of the efforts of his colleagues, paramedics and doctors were read to the court, family and friends of Constable Carroll wiped tears from their eyes.
Paramedics said they found the constable in the front seat of his car, his eyes shut and blood pouring from a head wound.
However, while a heart monitor confirmed no vital signs, the medical team continued to administer CPR to the stricken policeman.
Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (39), of Aldervale, Tullygally, and 19-year-old John Paul Wootton, from Collingdale, both deny murdering Constable Stephen Carroll on March 9, 2009. Wootton's 48-year-old mother Sharon denies perverting justice by removing a computer from her home. The murder came just two days after two soldiers were gunned down outside Massereene Army barracks, hours before they were to be deployed to Afghanistan.