Court rejects bid to overturn convictions for murdering policeman outside barracks

Belfast High Court

Two dissident republicans have failed to overturn their convictions for murdering police constable Stephen Carroll in the North in 2009.

Constable Carroll was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in March 2009.

Three years later, Brendan McConville (aged 43) from Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton (aged 23) from Lurgan, were found guilty at Belfast Crown Court of murdering the 48-year-old officer from Banbridge, Co Down.

The appeal was heard in Belfast High Court last year by the North's Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Coghlin and Lord Justice Higgins. Their reserved judgment was delivered today.

McConville was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for the murder. Wootton was handed a minimum 14-year term.

Constable Carroll was shot dead in a dissident ambush two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks in Antrim town.

He died of a single gunshot wound to the head sustained as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.

A brick had been thrown through the window of a house in the private development an hour earlier, prompting the occupants to call the police.

Constable Carroll was the first policeman killed by republican paramilitaries since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001.

After reviewing all the witness and forensic evidence, Judge Morgan said he and his fellow appeal judges were satisfied that the original verdict had been correct.

“The surrounding circumstances in our view formed a compelling case that each of these appellants was guilty of the offences with which they were charged,” he said.

Wootton and McConville showed no emotion as the decision was read.

Mr Carroll’s widow Kate and her son Shane looked on from the public gallery.

Relatives and supporters of the two dissidents wept outside the court amid a heavy security presence.

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