Belfast Telegraph

Widow 'pities' policeman's killers

The widow of a murdered policeman has said she felt pity for his killers as she watched them being convicted and jailed for life.

Kate Carroll, whose husband Stephen was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, County Armagh, said dissident republican terrorists who continued to wreak misery on families in Northern Ireland were fighting a losing battle.

Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were found guilty at Belfast Crown Court of murdering the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) constable in March 2009.

"I just felt justice has been done," Mrs Carroll said after the verdicts were handed down by Lord Justice Paul Girvan. "I felt pity and disgust for them because my idea is we are trying to move on in Northern Ireland, we are trying to keep the peace process going and no-one wants it (violence)."

The officer, 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by republican terrorists since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look PSNI.

Mrs Carroll, who embraced her son Shane after the judgments, said the hunt for justice would go on as not all members of the murder gang involved had been brought before the courts. She said: "I am happy that we have got this far but we have a long long way to go yet, not everyone connected with Steve's murder has been found guilty."

The officer's widow had a stark message for those still involved in violence in Northern Ireland. Last year another policeman - 25-year-old Ronan Kerr - was murdered by dissidents in Omagh, County Tyrone. "Look at what they are doing," said Mrs Carroll. "They haven't achieved anything from Steve's killing, from Ronan Kerr's killing, they've achieved absolutely nothing - they are fighting a losing battle and why do they do it? No-one wants it any more."

McConville, of Aldervale, Tullygally in Craigavon, and Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, County Armagh, showed no emotion as the judge passed sentence at the end of a judgment which took more than two hours to deliver.

The judge described the killing of the policeman as a "callous and cowardly crime". Wootton was also convicted of collecting information for the use of terrorism. He was found guilty of trying to obtain the address of another policeman weeks before the murder.

Trouble flared in Craigavon in the wake of the verdicts. Three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire in the Tullygally area. Motorists and pedestrians were advised to avoid the area as police attended the disturbances.


From Belfast Telegraph