RMT union calls for ‘Craigavon Two’ case review

Brendan (Yandy) McConville was sentenced to 25 years

ONE of Britain’s largest unions has passed a motion calling for the case of two Co Armagh men convicted of killing PSNI Stephen Carroll to be reviewed.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) passed the motion earlier this month.

Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton have denied involvement in the Continuity IRA sniper attack that claimed the life of Mr Carroll as he answered an emergency call in Lurgan, Co Armagh in March 2009.

McConville is currently serving a 25-year sentence while Wootton was handed an 18-year term.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast rejected an appeal in 2014 and the case is currently being considered by the Criminal Case Review Commission.

The RMT currently represents 83,000 members across Britain.

Its motion, which has now been adopted as national policy, “acknowledge concerns about how the convictions of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were achieved and call on the Criminal Cases Review Commission to fully investigate the case”.

Senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley said members are concerned about the “miscarriage of justice which has happened for nearly a decade now”.

“We have looked at the evidence as a union and we think at the very least there should be a review of what happened,” he said.

“It’s no good waiting for 20 odd years and having a review after that and setting people free when their lives are destroyed.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

 

PSNI officer who tended to dying Constable Stephen Carroll admits faking documents amid survivor’s guilt – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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Former PSNI/RUC officer John Gillespie (33).

A former PSNI/RUC officer who tended to a dying colleague after a dissident republican group CIRA shot him has addmitted faking documents and interviews during an investigation.

http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/psni-officer-who-tended-to-dying-constable-stephen-carroll-admits-faking-documents-amid-survivors-guilt-31287704.html

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Constable Stephen Carroll - PSNI/RUC

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With many thanks to: staff reporter: The Belfast Telegraph.

SOLICITOR FOR POLICEMAN’S KILLER: I feared arrest during appeal.

‘This has gone past the issue of [the] appeal. This has become intimidation in my view and I think a number of people in this room will agree with me, it’s now intimidation – Darragh Mackin.

A SOLICITOR for one of the men convicted of Constable Stephen Carroll’s muder has accused the PSNI of “intimidation” of defence lawyers in the case and said he was “terrified” that he would be arrested for representing his client.

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Darragh Mackin made the remarks during a public discussion organised by supporters of Co Armagh men Brendan McConville and John Paul Wotton who were convicted of shooting the officer dead in Craigavon in 2009. McConville, from Lurgan, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years while Wotton (21), from Craigavon, was told he will have to serve at least 14 years following their trial in 2011. Both men have continued to protest they had no part in the Continuity IRA sniper attack. Campaigners and the men’s legal teams have raised questions about eyewitness and forensic evidence. Last Friday Mr Mackin claimed that the PSNI had attempted to “undermine” an appeal hearing that was due to be held in April. He confirmed that his office has contacted the UN special rapporteur in connection with the case. Controversy erupted on the day of the appeal was due to begin after a defence barrister claimed police had attempted to “sabotage” the hearing.

It was also revealed that a new defence witness was arrested and questioned by police before being released without charge days before the appeal was due to begin. McConville’s legal team bbelieve they and the new witness had been under security-force surveillance in the lead-up to the appeal hearing, which will now be held in October. The solicitor says he and a colleague, Peter Corrigan, feared that that they too would be arrested.

“I will never forget the day when we went down to Brendan McConville’s appeal, obviously with members of the farmily, and it’s an absolutely terrifying fact to think there’s a chance – and Peter would agree with me on this – that me or him or both of us will be arrested at that point in time,” he said. “This has gone past the issue of [the] appeal. This has become intimidation in my view and I think a number of people in this room will agree with me, it’s now intimidatIon.” A PSNI spokesman said: “Since this matter is currently before the courts, we are unable to comment.” Shame Fein policing board member Pat (the rat) Sheehan told those at the discussion that the case “looks like a clear mmiss carriage of justice”. A PSNI spokesman said: “As a member of the board, Mr Sheehan will have opportunities to raise issues with senior officers in both open and private sessions.”

OFFICERS TO GIVE EVIDENCE ON PSNI/RUC ‘BID TO SABOTAGE APPEAL’ !

‘It’s our case  that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process – Barry Macdonald QC.

POLICE decision-making and arresting officers are to give evidence about an alleged attempt to sabotage appeals by two men jailed for murdering  Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard. Amid repeated claims that the PSNI/RUC tried to stymie the legal process by detaining a new witness, senior judges were told covert surveillance recordings were also to be examined.

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Details emerged as an unprecedented bid to secure independent oversight of the ongoing police investigation was put back until October. Interference  has been alleged by lawyers for John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville, both of whom are seeking to overturn their murder convictions. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon on March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the killing. Wotton (22), of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Days before their joint appeal was to get under way last month, a man related to a key prosecution witness was arrested and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar.

According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence and told him he would be discredited if he testified.The lawyers want the Court of Appeal to direct independent oversight of this aspect of the investigation. One option would be for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to intervene. A separate request has been made to the police oombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct. In court yesterday Barry Macdonald QC, for McConville, said : “It’s our case that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process.” Questions to be decided in the defence application include :

  • Was  the surveillance operation properly authorised under laws governing the use of covert techniques?
  • Was the arrest of the new witness lawful and necessary?
  • Was there any attempt to presuade or coerce him to alter his evidence?
  • Has there been any police manipulation of the process?
  • If so, what are the consequences?

Mr Macdonald said he intended to call the new wwitness and at least one solicitor to testify. Ciaran Murphy QC, for the Public Prosecution Service, told the court that all police officers who had either decided to make the arrest or carried it out would be expected to give evidence. All interviews and recordings should be gone through as well, in a process that could take days, he suggested. Mr Murphy said he was satisfied proper authorisation was obtained in relation to the covert material. “If there is action by the police either inappropriate or unlawful, past or future, there is a clear remedy open to the defendants,” he said. However, Mr Macdonald expressed concern that the application would not be heard until October, when the appeal itself is scheduled to begin. “In the absence of any measures to provide independent oversight of this investigation the court itself will have exposed itself to possible liability for breach of article 6 [ right to a fair trial ],” the lawyer said. The case was adjourned for a further review next month.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

MEN JAILED FOR CARROLL KILLING GET DATE FOR LEGAL CHALLENGE

‘ Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville.

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AN unprecedented legal bid for independent oversight of PSNI/RUC inquiries surrounding the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll will take place next week.

Lawyers for the two men attempting to overturn their convictions for the killing are seeking an order for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to examine the arrest of a new witness in the case. They are also making a separate application to the Police Ombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct in the operation. Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville. Defence counsel made thehclaim as their joint challenge to being found guilty of the murder was put back until October 7th amid uncertainty over potential fresh evidence. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville (41) of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wootton, (22) of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. It was revealed in court that an related to a key prosecution  witness was arrested two weeks ago and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar. According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, and warned he would be discredited if he testified. They now want the Court of Appeal to direct the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look into this aspect of the case. Judges yesterday listed their application for  hearing next Wednesday. It was also confirmed that transcripts from all but one of the 11 interviews carried out with this new wittness have been handed over to the defence teams. As he updated the court Ciaran Murphy QC, prosecuting, said ongoing police inquires are expected to take another four weeks. Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed out : “Part of this application is about who should conduct/supervise that investigation.” Mr Murphy replied by suggesting the CCRC may have difficulties in dealing with a continuing police probe.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

POLICE ‘TRIED TO SABOTAGE’ APPEAL IN CONSTABLE MURDER CASE

” Two police officers called at the house of this wwitness on whose fresh evidence we rely…. it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited ” – Barry Macdonald QC.

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POLICE have made an apparent attempt to sabotage appeals by two men convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a court heard yesterday. A new witness in the case of John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville was arrested last week and held for two days before being released without charge in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, it was claimed.

Senior judges were told officers had forced their way into his home and warned him he would be discredited if he went to court. Yesterday the planned five-day hearing of the appeal by the pair found guilty of the killing was adjourned because of uncertainty over the potential fresh evidence. Defence lawyers said they would lodge a complaint with the police oombudsman’s office. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to an emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wotton (22), of Collingdale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Dressed in dark suits and wearing shirts and ties, both men were led handcuffed into a packed Court of Appeal for the planned opening of their cchallenge.

Family, friends and supporters, including Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four (pictured above), gathered in the public gallery a few feet away from the murdered officer’s wife Kate Carroll. They heard prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC seek an adjournment because of the new developments. He said an arrest had been made last week as part of a surveillance operation. “There are a number of lines of inquiry that are not yet complete,” he said. Two lever-arch files of new material have emerged and include the contents of 11 interviews. Mr Murphy indicated that ongoing police inquires could take several weeks. McConville’s barrister Barry Macdonald QC stressed that the prosecution case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, primarily from a man identified only as witness M who claimed to have seen McConville in the area at the time of the killing. Earlier this month a relative of witness M who did not testify at the trial gave an affidavit branding him a compulsive liar, the court heard. Mr Macdonald said the affidavit stated “that he was known to the family as a Walter Mitty, that made up stories, that he had a fertile imagination and you could not believe anything he said “. According to the relative, witness M could not have taken the route he claimed on the night of the murder because his partner was not welcome in his home.

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Mr Macdonald told the court : “Then last Monday two police officers called at the house of this witness on whose fresh evidence we rely. “On my instructions it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited.” The three appeal judges, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Lords Justices Higgins and Coghlin, were informed that letters of complaint were also to be sent to the Public Prosecution Service and the Law Society amid concerns that covert surveillance might have been used against the witness, his solicitor or both. Mr Macdonald described the application to adjourn the hearing as “suspicious to say the least”. Defence teams would have no faith in police carrying out an investigation into the issues raised because of the apparent conflict of interest, the barrister said. It was alleged that officers had been able to “arrest this witness and to subject him to pressure – we say improper pressure – with a view to securing the withdrawal of his evedence and therefore undermining the appeal”. Mr Macdonald called for a more independent oversight process. “I’m simply registering strong objection to the conduct that appears to have taken place here and flagging up our deep concerns at the prospect that police should be given more time to sabotage this appeal and put their case togeather,” he said. Following discussions Sir Declan confirmed that the hearing would be postponed until October.

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Solicitors seek ‘independent’ investigators

SOLICITORS acting for Brendan McConville will ask a court to appoint “independent” investigators after the PSNI/RUC was accused of trying to “sabotage” his appeal. Kevin Winters last night said he would ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI/RUC investigation into a new witness in the case just days after that witness signed an affidavit for the defence team. This arrest was made after a surveillance operation that is understood to have focused on several people. It is beleived to be the first time a court in the North of Ireland will be asked to remove control of an investigation from the PSNI/RUC and hand it to the commission. Set up in 1997 the commission reviews possible miscarriages of justice.

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Defence solicitors say it can oversee police investigations in certain circumstances. Mr Winters emphasised the need for an independant body to look at the matter. The police ombudsman’s office has also asked to probe the circumstances of the witness’s arrest. “We have concerns and they were highlighted in court about the manner in which the police have approached this and have written to the police ombudsman and in the strongest terms voiced our grave concerns,” Mr Winters said. The lawyer said he had also written to the Law Society and had asked the Public Prosecution Service to confirm it had offered direction or advice to the PSNI/RUC in relation to the arrest of witness M’s relative. A PSNI/RUC spokesman said : “Police inquiries into this matter are continuing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.

Stephen Carroll murder case: Sharon Wootton admits charge

Sharon Wootton (Pacemaker pics)

Sharon Wootton admitted obstructing police by removing a computer from her house

The mother of one of the men accused of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll has pleaded guilty to obstructing police investigating the killing.

Sharon Wootton admitted that on a date between March 8 – 11 2009, she removed computer equipment from her Lurgan home to another address.

She had originally faced a charge of perverting the course of justice.

However, Lord Justice Girvan acquitted her of that count after the Crown offered no further evidence on it.

Wootton’s 20-year-old son John Paul Wootton from Collindale, Lurgan, and former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon both deny murdering Constable Carroll on March 9 2009.

The officer was shot dead after responding with colleagues to a 999 call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon.

Defence QC Karen Quinliven applied for continuing bail for Sharon Wootton while pre-sentence probation reports are completed.

Lord Justice Girvan adjourned passing sentence until a date to be fixed.

Stephen Carroll trial: Army ‘reluctant to hand over device’

The Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has heard a specialist Army unit was reluctant to hand over vital surveillance information to police.

Constable Stephen Carroll (Pacemaker pics)

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

An under cover military unit had placed a tracking device on the car of one of the accused, John Paul Wootton.

On Tuesday, a police inspector revealed that the Army only gave the device to detectives when the threat of a warrant being obtained was put to them.

The officer, Det Ch Insp Harkness, said that he had never before dealt with such a device and that no such tracker had ever been used in evidence in the UK before.

The prosecution contends that the device reveals that Mr Wootton’s car was used to transport Constable Carroll’s killers to and from the murder scene.

Mr Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting the course of justice.

Earlier, a witness told the trial Mr Wootton’s car was parked close to where the gunman fired from.

Scene of shootingConstable Carroll was shot dead after responding to a 999 call

Witness K, a navigation specialist engineer who gave evidence from behind a screen, said the tracking device showed the car’s location.

Witness K said he examined data from a GPS tracking device which the Army had hidden on Mr Wootton’s car.

He said he had examined more than 150 location fixes from the device and at the time of the murder the car was stationary on the Drumbeg estate, which is close to the murder scene.

He also said the data revealed that 20 minutes after the shooting the car was near Mr McConville’s home.

Related Stories

Stephen Carroll trial: Army ‘reluctant to hand over device’

Constable Stephen Carroll (Pacemaker pics)
Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009

The Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has heard a specialist Army unit was reluctant to hand over vital surveillance information to police

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

An under cover military unit had placed a tracking device on the car of one of the accused, John Paul Wootton.

On Tuesday, a police inspector revealed that the Army only gave the device to detectives when the threat of a warrant being obtained was put to them.

The officer, Det Ch Insp Harkness, said that he had never before dealt with such a device and that no such tracker had ever been used in evidence in the UK before.

The prosecution contends that the device reveals that Mr Wootton’s car was used to transport Constable Carroll’s killers to and from the murder scene.

Mr Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting the course of justice.

Earlier, a witness told the trial Mr Wootton’s car was parked close to where the gunman fired from.

Scene of shooting Constable Carroll was shot dead after responding to a 999 call

Witness K, a navigation specialist engineer who gave evidence from behind a screen, said the tracking device showed the car’s location.

Witness K said he examined data from a GPS tracking device which the Army had hidden on Mr Wootton’s car.

He said he had examined more than 150 location fixes from the device and at the time of the murder the car was stationary on the Drumbeg estate, which is close to the murder scene.

He also said the data revealed that 20 minutes after the shooting the car was near Mr McConville’s home.

 

Alleged Continuity IRA leader named in Carroll murder trial

 

A man has been named in Belfast Crown Court as the leader of the Continuity IRA in Craigavon.

It happened during the trial of two men accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

A detective said a decision was taken not to arrest the alleged dissident leader in order to protect a key prosecution witness – Witness M.

He denied claims that the alleged Continuity IRA leader – named by a defence lawyer as Eddie Breen – was an informer.

Brendan McConville, 40, from Aldervale, Tullygally and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Witness M has said he spotted 40-year-old Mr McConville at the scene shortly before the shooting.

He told the police that he was 90% sure he had seen Mr Breen with Mr McConville, but later changed that to being 50% sure.

It emerged that Mr Breen was arrested 11 months after the killing and later released.

Witness M also said he was threatened to “keep his mouth shut”, and Belfast Crown Court heard claims on Thursday that these threats were carried out by Mr Breen.

Mr Breen was not rearrested after Witness M told the police about the threats.

When asked why, the detective leading the investigation said arresting him would have put Witness M’s family in grave danger.

He denied allegations that the police were protecting Mr Breen because he was an informer.

Accused of lying

Earlier, the defence lawyer accused Witness M of deliberately lying to the court.

Giving evidence by videolink, Witness M told the court in Belfast on Wednesday that he saw Mr McConville standing close to where the prosecution claims the gun was fired 30 minutes later.

He said he had been out walking his dog at the time.

He told the court he had no problems with his eyesight and only wears glasses as a fashion accessory.

However, it has since emerged that he is short sighted and on Thursday in court, he admitted needing glasses for reading.

When asked why he lied under oath he replied: “I didn’t.”

The barrister asked: “How many lies do you have to tell as you go along… you say the person I represent was close to the scene of a murder.”

Witness M replied: “Some things like that you don’t forget.”

Under cross examination the man also revealed that he was treated by a psychologist and was about £11,000 in debt before he entered the witness protection programme.

The court heard that the PSNI pays Witness M £1,400 a month via the programme. They also cover his child care costs and his accommodation.

The trial continues.

Stephen Carroll trial: Army intelligence lost tracking data

 

Members of a specialist army intelligence unit have been unable to explain how vital tracking information relating to the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll was deleted.

Three soldiers were questioned in court on Monday, during the trial of John Paul Wooton, and Brendan McConville, who are accused of Constable Carroll’s murder.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot in March 2009.

Both defendants deny the murder.

Army intelligence officers had hidden a GPS tracking device in the car of Mr Wooton – who was 19 years old when Constable Carroll was killed.

The prosecution said that the car was used to transport the killers to and from the scene.

One soldier – named only as PIN 8625, and concealed from the court by a screen – described how he had removed the tracker from Mr Wooton’s car the day after the murder, and placed it in a storage facility at an un-named base.

He then went on leave before downloading and saving its contents, which plotted the movements of the car before, during and after the murder.

Despite there being no record of anyone else having touched the device the material on it was deleted.

None of the soldiers were able to explain how, or by whom.

One of the defence barristers then asked whether there had also been a listening device installed in the car, at which point the prosecution intervened.

The disclosure of such information will be dealt with later.

Stephen Carroll trial: Explosives expert critical of evidence

An explosives expert giving evidence at the Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has strongly criticised the prosecution team. 

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

The forensic scientist said he has been constantly frustrated and found it very difficult to do his job due to the “shifting sands of the prosecution”.

The defence witness said they were inconsistent and incompetent.

He was especially critical of two forensic scientists who were prosecution witnesses and who had examined the murder weapon.

The explosives expert said he was at a loss to understand why the gun had not been cleaned before it was test fired and that the lack of control in the experiments invalidated any results.

The scientist also told Belfast Crown Court that since 2006 the FBI has not used gunshot residue evidence in its cases due to the variability of results.

Brendan McConville, 40, from Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.

 

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