THE widow of murdered PSNI officer Stephen Carroll last night agreed to an offer to meet with the mother of one of her husband’s killers.Kate Carroll said that she was prepared to meet Eileen McConville in the wake of her son Brendan’s conviction for the 2009 shooting.
The remarkable development came as 72-year-old Mrs McConville told The Irish News that she wished to express her ” deep condolences ” to Mrs Carroll as she offered to meet with her. Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (41), pictured below right, was sentenced to a minimum of 25-years in prison after being found guilty of Constable Carroll’s murder in Craigavon in March 2009. His co-accused John Paul Wootton (21) received a 14-year jail term.
Last week Mrs Carroll revealed in an interveiw that she and the McConville family had acknowledged each other while seated in the public gallery during the recent trail. In appealing for a face to face meeting Mrs McConville, who believes her son is innocent, said: ” I had a brother murdered in 1977, his widow was left with five children and never got over the loss…. so I know how Mrs Carroll and her family feel.” I have thought about this many times and I would like to speak to Mrs Carroll.”
Last night Mrs Carroll said she would be prepared to take up the offer of a meeting. ” I would be happy to meet,” she said. ” I think it would heal a lot of the scars and be a big step in moving forward.” Mrs Carroll said she had also considered approaching Mrs McConville. ” I had talked to one of the officers in the case before about meeting her. ” I just wanted to explain my feelings towards her. ” They have suffered a loss too,” she said. ” I am a very fair person and I will never hold someone responsible for the actions of someone else.”
The mother of a man convicted of the killing of Constable Stephen Carroll has expressed her heartfelt sorrow for the murder and said she would like to meet the policeman’s widow. Eileen McConville also condemned outright the dissident republican murder of the 48-year-old PSNI officer in Craigavon in March 2009. Earlier this month her son, former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (41), was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in jail after being foung guilty of the shooting. His co-accused John Paul Wooton – who was 17 at the time of the murder – was sentenced to 14 years.His sentence has been referred to the Court of Appeal following complaints that it was too lenient.
Constable Carroll’s widow Kate revealed in an interveiw last week that she and the McConville family had acknowledged each other while seated in the public gallery during the lengthy trail.” They probably are devasted. They didn’t come for the sentencing. I am not gloating at their son and Wootton being sentenced,” Mrs Carroll said. Speaking yesterday from their home in Craigavon McConville’s elderly parents said they nooded to the grieving widow because they wanted to pass on their condolences. ” My heart goes out to her. She lost her husband and we have felt that way from the first day we heard of the shooting, even before Brendan was arrested,” Mrs McConville said.” From day one we have felt really, really sorry for her.
” I had a brother murdered in 1977. His widow was left with five childern and she never got over the loss. ” My own mother never got over it so I know how Mrs Carroll and her family feel. ” We want to express our condolences and say that we totally condemn the murder of Mr Carroll in the strongest possible terms, just like we would condemn any murder. ” As a family we have no time for that sort of thing.” I have thought about this many times and I would like to speak to Mrs Carroll. ” I don’t think anyone has the right to take a life, anyone’s life no matter who or what they are. ” And I really want to get that acros, to tell her that we are really sorry for her loss – but also that Brendan didn’t do it.”
Speaking about the trail Mrs McConville said she was keen to get across to Mr Carroll’s widow that they were there to support their youngest son and did not agree with the murder of her husband. ” We went a few times at the start. We were there the first day and Mrs Carroll sat behind us all of those time,” Mrs McConville said. ” We did nod to her and acknowledge her because we wanted her to realise that we felt for her too, being there in court in those awful circumstances.”
The trial of Brendan McConville for the killing of constable Stephen Carroll – the first member of the PSNI to be murdered since the organisation changed name – attracted global attention. Eileen McConville and her husband William went to Belfast Crown Court on a number of occasions. However the two pensioners found it too difficult to sit through the entire trial. The Court was originally told that a special British army intelligence unit had attached a tracking system to Wotton’s car prior to the shooting. The prosecution argued that this showed the vehicle was close to the scene at the time of the murder.
However, it later emerged that the tracking device had been ” WIPED” and that data from the hours after the killing was lost. Three soldiers gave evidence anonymously but failed to explain how the data was deleted from the device. Solicitor Peter Corrigan of Kevin Winters & Co confirmed this week that he is preparing an appeal of the judgement. Mrs McConville said she believes that her son is innocent.” People only see a fraction of what is reported if there had of been a jury trail it would have been thrown out it would never have even made it as far as it did”, she said. ” I’m 72-years-old now. If Brendan was to serve 25 years me and my husband will never see him out. ” He has two children aged 17 and 16 and we worry about them as well.” I would like politicians and the justice minister to please just take the time to read through the evidence to see just what Brendan was convicted on. ” They had to get someone for the murder and he was the first person that came to hand.”
The murder trail also heard identification evidence from a witness known only as ” M ” , who has since gone into a witness protection programme. ” We had never heard tell of him before that day,” Mrs McConville said. ” Brendan never knew him, had never met him. ” He said he knew Brendan from he was a nipper but that couldn’t be right because we never even lived in Craigavon when he was young. ” He’s not even his age. He wasn’t in school with him or anything. ” You just have to hope that the appeal court judges will be fair and go on the evidence in front of them. ” I would also call on human rights organisations and international justice groups to take time to read through the evidence that was presented at Brendan’s trail. ” If it was my loved one or family member I would like to thin that the person who did it would be locked up rather than an innocent person be convicted. ” We know Brendan didn’t do it and that’s not justice, not for Mrs Carroll or anyone else.”
WITH THANKS TO : ALLISON MORRIS, IRISH NEWS.
- Widow to meet killer’s parents (bbc.co.uk)
- ‘I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye’ says widow of Stephen Carroll, policeman gunned down in Northern Ireland (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Two guilty of Constable Carroll’s murder (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Convictions of McConville and Wootten Unsafe: ILDC (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- UK & World News: Two IRA dissidents jailed for 25 and 14 years over murder of police officer Stephen Carroll (dailyrecord.co.uk)
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