Ex-Sinn Fein Man On Trial Over Police Murder

Ex-Sinn Fein Man On Trial Over Police Murder

Pallbearers carry the coffin of police constable Stephen Carroll in 2009Pallbearers carry the coffin of police constable Stephen Carroll in 2009

A former Sinn Fein councillor is one of two men who have gone on trial charged with the murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland.

Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was the first officer to be killed by terrorists after the Police Service of Northern Ireland replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, both from Lurgan in County Armagh, are accused of murder and possession of a firearm with intent.

Mr McConville, who formerly represented Sinn Fein on Craigavon Borough Council, and Mr Wootton have both grown lengthy beards during a “no wash” prison protest.

Constable Stephen CarrollConstable Carroll had served in the police for 24 years

Mr Wootton’s 39-year-old mother, Sharon Wootton, has also gone on trial charged with perverting the course of justice during the investigation of the policeman’s murder.

Constable Carroll, a grandfather from Banbridge in County Down, had 24 years’ police service and was nearing the end of his shift when his killers struck.

The so-called Continuity IRA claimed it had shot the officer dead as he responded to a 999 call at Craigavon, County Armagh, in March 2009.

Opening the trial in Belfast, a prosecution lawyer said: “It was an attack designed to kill any police officer who attended the scene that night.”

The trial was postponed from December when one of the accused, Ms Wootton, dismissed her legal team just hours before it was due to commence.

All three defendants deny all the charges against them and the trial is expected to last at least six weeks.

Constable Carroll’s death came two days after dissident republicans shot dead two British soldiers as they collected a delivery of pizzas outside Massareene barracks in Antrim.

With many Thanks to : David Blevins, Ireland correspondent

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