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.

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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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