Kate Carroll: Steve’s human rights went to the grave with him

Stephen Carroll

I was in complete shock after reading an article about a convicted man who was involved in the murder of my husband Stephen Carroll on March 9 2009.

It’s the irony and temerity of the fact that a man convicted in a Court of Law for murder would choose to study criminology and psychology. It’s none of my business but I thought it strange


In as much as I admire and respect people who make good choices in life to further and advance their education, it leaves me wondering about the true motives behind this choice of career.

Hopefully he will use his degree to bring about change in our country by doing extensive research on the factors both psychologically and socially that lead to the causes of heinous crimes being committed.


My husband studied for a degree in Sports Science which he slotted into his life including being a father, grandfather and husband. He also carried out his work protecting the community where his life was tragically taken away.

He, (through no fault of his own) never got the chance to realise his dream of working with people who had suffered from heart attacks and strokes.

His human rights went to the grave with him.

Steve was denied the right to life by a person who is now demanding the right to internet access – what an insult to every sane person and logically thinking person on this Island

Stephen and Kate Carroll

There is no contest between life versus internet access!

Why are convicted criminals allowed to have internet and media services access?

How was Mr McConville able to have air-time on a radio station whilst still incarcerated?

It would have made more sense to have spoken out in the court and protested innocence there.

Instead he came into court in grubby clothes wearing a long beard and refused to recognise the court.

I wouldn’t have said those were the actions of an innocent person.

Do criminals have more rights than their victims?

Why are they able to have interaction with the judicial system at all?

Taxpayers’ money would be put to better use investigating how convicted felons are able to access outside services for their own personal gain.

A criminologist’s job is to determine and analyse why a crime was committed and find ways to prevent further criminal behaviours.

Hopefully Mr McConville will use his knowledge of criminology in this way and not as a possible tool to find loopholes in the judicial system.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Kate Carroll for the original story

Editor’s Viewpoint: Killer McConville’s legal action is a sickening irony

A case currently before our courts stains our credulity, even in the Alice-in-Wonderland of the North of Ireland

A case currently before our courts strains our credulity, even in the Alice-in-Wonderland of Northern Ireland.

Dissident republican killer Brendan McConville, from Lurgan and serving a minimum of 25 years for the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll in 2009, has launched a judicial review against the Prison Service over the alleged denial of safe access to him to use online resources while studying for an Open University degree.

Constable Carroll, then 48, was the first PSNI officer to be murdered, shot dead as he answered a 999 call in Craigavon.

John Paul Wootton, from Lurgan, was given a minimum 18-year sentence for his involvement.

McConville, in Maghaberry Prison, is in the final stages of a B.Sc honours degree, ironically in criminology and psychology. He claims the prison authorities are discriminating against him because, as a segregated prisoner, he cannot access online resources which are located in a separate unit.

Mr Justice McCloskey, in adjourning the legal challenge until October, said that this would allow time to consider a report into learning opportunities for segregated prisoners, and also into any potential complaint to the Police Ombudsman.

In today’s paper Stephen Carroll’s widow, Kate, surely speaks for us all when she asks the pointed question: “Do criminals have more rights than their victims?”

Like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland has a robust adversarial justice system, with an appeals process.

But there was no right of appeal to a higher court when McConville and his associates set out to ambush and murder Constable Carroll. As Kate Carroll rightly says, her husband’s human rights went to the grave with him.

One truth about modern penology, which human rights activists are often slow to admit, is that even life-sentence prisoners like Brendan McConville can live a tolerable existence behind bars.

They have three meals a day, access to other prisoners, and to education facilities.

There is a life to be had in prison. In sharp contrast, Stephen Carroll’s life was brutally ended, and his widow Kate’s life changed utterly.

Such double-standards are nauseating. Perhaps, as Kate Carroll suggests, this is the time for the pendulum to swing back in favour of victims’ rights. The courts are best-placed to start this recalibration towards common sense and justice.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and the Editors Viewpoint for the original story

Security Services questioned over missing evidence in Carroll murder

THE British army had secretly bugged a car belonging to a dissident suspect on the night he was allegedly involved in the murder of police constable Stephen Carroll.

However, it can now be revealed that evidence from the bugging device was later destroyed while held inside a supposedly secure compound at an army base.

Constable Stephen Carroll became the first member of the PSNI to be murdered after he was shot while responding to a 999 call in Craigavon on the night of March 9, 2009.

The killing came just 48 hours after Real IRA gunmen had shot dead two soldiers at Massereene army barracks in County Antrim. For sometime beforehand the authorities had warned of a rising threat emanating from the various dissident Republican groupings.

Three days before Constable Carroll’s murder, then Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde had announced that he had called in an undercover British army unit to help police target dissident republicans.

He said that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, based at the SAS headquarters in Hereford, England, would increase the PSNI’s “technical ability” but would have “no operation role.”

Orde’s decision raised issues for members of the Northern Ireland Police Board.

The SDLP said the deployment of the undercover unit had raised “the issue of who is in control” of intelligence in Northern Ireland, while Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said it had shaken his confidence in the chief constable.

The Continuity IRA’s killing of Constable Carroll was viewed as a direct challenge to Hugh Orde and the security services.

Within 48 hours the PSNI had arrested a number of suspects

Stephen Carroll.

One of those arrested was 17 year-old John Paul Wooton.

The teenager’s Citroen Saxo car was seized by the PSNI at the same time.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville was another of those questioned.

Both men were later charged with the policeman’s murder.

In court, prosecution lawyers would later allege that Wooton’s car had been parked 150 yards from the scene of the shooting and had driven off within minutes of the killing.

McConville’s DNA is alleged to have been found on a jacket recovered from the boot of Wooton’s car, which prosecutors claim also contained gun residue from the murder weapon.

One witness claimed to have seen McConville close to the scene of the shooting before the attack.

Another claimed that she had witnessed Wooton’s car parked outside McConville’s home on the morning after the attack.

It can now be revealed that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment had been covertly bugging Wooton’s car and tracking its movements on the night of Constable Carroll’s murder.

But alarmingly, army chiefs have admitted in court that data from the device used to track the getaway car on the morning after the shooting was inexplicably destroyed.

Police arrest John Paul Wooton the day after Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder.

In May 2010 a soldier from SRR made a statement to police confirming that it had Wotton’s car under constant surveillance, including the night of the policeman’s murder.

According to a witness statement seen by The Detail, the undercover soldier, whose identity has never been revealed, told detectives:

“I am in the British army, `PIN 8625’.

“I was asked to deploy a vehicle tracking device against J.P. Wooton’s vehicle, which was a gold coloured Saxo registration number FCZ 9046.’’

The level of undercover surveillance targeting Wooton was at such a level that the tracking device was programmed to send a signal from the teenager’s car via satellite every two minutes.

“Once the device was deployed, my role was to retrieve the data from the vehicle tracking device,’’ he said.

The device, understood to have been hidden in the engine of Wooton’s car, transmitted coded data back to an undisclosed army base, where SRR was secretly monitoring his movements.

Two days after Constable Carroll’s murder `PIN 8625’ was ordered to go to Maydown PSNI station on the outskirts of Derry where the teenager’s car had been taken following his arrest.

He recovered the tracking device and brought it back to SRR’s undisclosed base somewhere in Northern Ireland.

In January this year, `PIN8625’ became the first member of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to give evidence in court since Sir Hugh’s announcement that he was deploying the specialist undercover unit to Northern Ireland in March, 2007.

His evidence went unnoticed as no members of the media were present in court for his testimony.

Evidence from PIN 8625

However, The Detail, has now obtained copies of his original statement to police and a transcript of his evidence to the court.

“I removed the vehicle tracking device from the Saxo and brought it back to my base,’’ he told police.

“I put the device into the storage area at the base.’’

He said that the potentially incriminating evidence contained on the tracking device was allowed to sit unsecured on a bench inside the army base while he went on extended leave.

“I returned to work six days later and discovered that all the data had been wiped off the vehicle tracking device which I had deployed against the Citroen Saxo.’’

However when he appeared in court, the undercover soldier claimed that only part of the evidence had been destroyed.

Speaking from behind a curtain, `PIN8625’ confirmed that data from the device had been wiped, despite being held in a supposedly secure army compound.

“ I was asked to look and see if the information was still there, which it wasn’t,’’ he said.

“You were hoping to retrieve the material right up until the car was recovered by the police on 10 March, is that right?’’ McConville’s solicitor Peter Corrigan asked:

A: “Yes’’

Q: “And were you able to obtain all that?

A: “No.’’

Q: “You were unable to retrieve it because someone had wiped the device is that correct?

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Who wiped it?

A: “I don’t know.’’

Q: “Were you concerned that the device had been wiped?

A: “ It was unfortunate the device had been wiped but the details covering the event had been retrieved.’’

Q: “ So is it your evidence, is it, that all information up until the vehicle was taken by police was retrieved?

A: “The dates are on the download, I can’t remember. The last download would give you the date and time of the last fix.’’

Q: “You were aware that there was a gap weren’t you?

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “You were concerned about the gap naturally’’

A: “It was unfortunate.’’

Q: “Because potentially relevant evidence was lost?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Confirming how his army superiors had launched an inquiry in a bid to discover who had been responsible for destroying the evidence, he was asked:

Q: “There was an investigation wasn’t there in to who was responsible for wiping the data?’’

A: “People wanted to know why the data was erased, yes.’’

Q: “Your superiors were concerned?’’

A: “They looked in to the reasons why the data had been erased.’’

`PIN 8625’was cross-examined further by Wooton’s solicitor Andrew Moriarty.

Q: “Do you know how the data was wiped?’’


Q:“Is it difficult to wipe the data?

A: “No’’

Q: “How long would it take to wipe the data?’’

A: “Not sure I can answer the question. It depends on the duration and how much information is on it.’’

Q: “Is there a procedure that has to be gone through to wipe data?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Can we infer from that it cannot be wiped accidentally?’’

A: “It can be wiped accidentally’’

Q: “Do you know whether it was wiped accidentally or whether it was wiped on purpose?’’

A: “No I don’t.’’

The soldier was cross-examined as to how vital intelligence could have been left unattended and then destroyed inside a secure army base.

Q: “Is the storage facility on your base secure?’’

A: “Yes’’

Q: “Would only authorised personnel be allowed to enter the storage area. ’’

A: “A number of people can enter the storage area.’’

Q: “Do they require specific authorisation or permission?

A: “They would have to know how the kit works. The only people who would go in there are people trained in this kind of


Q: “Is this a specific storage facility?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Can I take it only a small number of people with access?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “And those people all have particular expertise with these devices?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “In the storage facility, is there any sort of labeling system for the material stored within?

A: “We label the kit with the particular operation that it is involved with.’’

The court also heard evidence from a weapons’ contractor, identified only as witness `J’, who had supplied the device used to track Wooton’s car.

Witness `J’ was cross-examined over `PIN 8625’s assertion that the tracking device could have been wiped by accident?

Q: “There’s a set procedure isn’t there for retrieving information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A: “Yes, that’s correct.’’

Q: “There is also a set procedure for deleting information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A. “Yes. that’s correct.’’

Q: “And is it fair to say that these procedures are completely different?

A. “The two procedures are completely different.’’

District judge Alan White ruled that Wooton and McConville should be returned for trial later this year, stating:

“It is not my place to decide if the device (used to track Wooton] was accurate.

“The court will decide.

“It is not a question of whether it was accurate regarding one location, but over a whole series of locations over time.”

He added: “It would be more important if “a consistent pattern of movement emerged” rather than the accuracy of the device in relation to one place.’’

Intelligence services accused in past of withholding evidence

With many thanks to: The Detail for the original posting dated: 14 March 2011.

Follow this link to find out more: http://Security Services questioned over missing evidence in Carroll murder


SOLICITORS acting on behalf of (Craigavon Two) two men convicted of the murder of PSNI/RUC police officer Stephen Carroll have written to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) after new details about the case were made public.

Brendan (Yandy) McConville and John Paul (JP) Wootton - wrongly convicted of murder

Brendan (Yandy) McConville (43) and John Paul (JP) Wootton (23) were convicted of killing the officer in Craigavon in March 2009. Both men have denied any part in the Continuity IRA (CIRA) attack that claimed the PSNI/RUC man’s life as he answered a 999 emergency call. It emerged this week, in a European Court judgement, that the gun used to kill Constable Carroll, pictured below, was discovered by police after a tip-off by a suspect, who was in custody at the time.

Constable Stephen Carroll

The suspect is referred to in court papers only as RE. The suspect was initially charged with withholding information about Mr Carroll’s murder but these charges were subsequently dropped in mid 2010. Brendan McConville’s solicitor Darragh Mackin, of KRW Law, has written to the PPS requesting notes taken during police interviews with RE and asking what happened to the charges levelled against him.
Details of the case emerged after RE took a case against the British government over concerns that the PSNI/RUC was carrying out surveillence of conversations between him and his solicitor.

Justice for the Craigavon Two #JFTC2

The man was arrested and questioned three times in the weeks after the officer was killed. Court papers reveal that he was assesssed by a medical officer as a “vulnerable person” and therefore should not have been interviewed – unless in exceptional circumstances – in the absence of an appropriate adult. Court papers reveal that before being seen by a solicitor or appropriate adult the man asked to speak to investigating officers “off the record”. During the course of that interview he “gave information which led to the recovery of the gun used in the constable’s murder.”


His solicitors subsequently brought a separate case on his behalf to the European Court which this week found that secret surveillance carried out on solicitors and their clients is in breach of European Law. During the first two periods of detention his solicitor received assurances that consultations would not be subject to covert surveillance. During a third arrest the PSNI/RUC refused to give an assurance.
The court ruling found that the man’s Article Eight rights under the European Court of Human Rights had been violated.
Article Eight protects the right for private and family life, home and correspondence.


Nichola Harte, of Harte, Coyle, Collins Solicitors, who represented RE, said the ruling has wider implications. “The European Court criticised the inadequate procedures currently in place in the North of Ireland for the handling, use, storage and destruction of information obtained from covert surveillance of legal consultations,” she said. “The police arrangements were and continue to be a violation of the right to respect for private life. “This landmark European ruling has implications for all legal consultations in police stations if subjected to covert surveillance.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News. For the origional story.

Campaigner to speak at ‘Craigavon Two event

THE mother of an English man jailed under joint enterprise laws spoke on Thursday night August 6th 2015 at an event organised by supporters of two men wrongly convicted of killing RUC/PSNI constable Stephen Carroll.

Jan Cunliffe traveled from England to Belfast to speak at the annual event organised by Justice for the Craigavon Two. Her son Jordan was given a life sentence after he was convicted under joint enterprise laws of murdering a man in Wigan in 2007. Ms Cunliffe is a member of the campaign group Jengba – Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association – and her story inspired award-wining filmmaker Jimmy McGovern to make the acclaimed film Common, Which explores the issue of joint enterprise. Constable Carroll was shot dead by a Continuity IRA (C.I.R.A) sniper in March 2009. Two Craigavon men John Paul Wootton (JP), and Brendan McConville (Yandy), were later convicted of his murder and lost their appeal. Both men deny any part in the attack that claimed the 48-year-old’s life. Jan Cunliffe said she wants to raise awareness around the issue of joint enterprise. “We want to wake people up and make them realise there have got to others,” she said. “We are aware of the evidence and there was no jury and I am not convinced by the convictions at all. “It’s typical of joint enterprise cases and there are hundreds that I know about.” Ms Cunliffe spoke at St Mary’s University at 7pm.

Campaigners claim misscarriage of justice ahead of appeal against conviction for murder of police officer in the North of Ireland.


Wednesday 4 September 2013 14.11 BST

Craigavon Two suitable scapegoats in wake of killing backlash, say supporters

An appeal by two men convicted of the murder in 2009 of a police officer in Northern Ireland is scheduled for October. Supporters, including one of the Guildford Four, say the so-called Craigavon Two are victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Stephen Carroll, a constable with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was shot dead in Craigavon, in County Armagh, in 2009 as he responded to a 999 call. He was the first police officer in Northern Ireland to be murdered after the Good Friday agreement. His death caused deep disquiet on both sides of the political divide. In 2012, two republicans, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, were found guilty of his murder and jailed for life.

At the pair’s appeal, it will be claimed that the main witness against them, a man known only as witness M, is a “compulsive liar”. The case has attracted attention because a new defence witness was arrested in April, just before the appeal was originally due to be heard, which led to a postponement until October.

“It seems to us there is such a high level of uncertainty as to the factual circumstances surrounding the position that we are faced with having no alternative but to adjourn this appeal,” said the lord chief justice, Sir Declan Morgan, in postponing the appeal.

The defence lawyers have argued that the prosecution case was based on circumstantial evidence, mainly from witness M. They claim that he was known as a “Walter Mitty” character and that his evidence cannot be relied on.

The defence barrister Barry Macdonald told the earlier appeal court hearing that the prosecution case in the original trial had relied heavily on this evidence in which M claimed to have seen McConville among a group of men close to the scene where Carroll was killed.

Macdonald said a new witness had emerged who had made a sworn affidavit in which he described M as a compulsive liar. The barrister alleged that police had arrested this new witness and questioned him before he was released without charge. “It appears to have been an attempt to sabotage the appeal,” Macdonald told the court.

A campaign, which has the backing of Gerry Conlon, who was falsely imprisoned for 15 years as a member of the Guildford Four before being released in 1989, argues that the case against McConville and Wootton was “inconclusive, contradictory and in places discredited”.

Conlon said: “We can’t have innocent people going to jail and 15 years down the line them being released, their lives ruined … I believe a miscarriage of justice took place here on the basis of all the evidence I have read.”

Campaigners claim the men were victims of a system that “sought to find suitable scapegoats in the wake of the political and media backlash following the killing”.

Carroll was not only the first officer to be killed after the Good Friday agreement but his death came shortly after the attack on the Massereene barracks in which two British soldiers were killed. All three killings were widely condemned.

With many thanks to : Duncan Campbell, The Guardian.

Courts to test ‘battered woman defence’ in drugs cases

Miscarriages of justice body refers case of Goldie Coats to the court of appeal

13 Feb 2012

Ratings scheme for advocates will be misused by criminals, judge warns

Plan will encourage more criminals to appeal against convictions and turn lawyers into sycophants, says Lord Justice Moses


9 Jan 2012

DNA and car tracker ‘link suspects to Northern Ireland policeman’s death’

Trial starts into 2009 terrorist killing of PSNI officer Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, north Armagh

24 May 2011


1048304_171056716406381_592755739_o Packy Carty > Justice for the Craigavon Two Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are serving life sentences in Maghaberry Gaol for the 2009 killing of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll. Both men maintain their innocence and claim they are victims of a miscarriage of justice. We believe they are innocent do you? We have studied the case and read the facts have you? Please share this to help us raise awareness. https://www.facebook.com/JFTC2 Photos of Justice for the Craigavon Two


Gerry Conlan : ” The government knew we were being tortured “.


As one of the Guildford Four, Gerry Conlon spent 15 years in prison for an IRA campaign he knew nothing about. More than 20 years later he is still fighting for justice.

There are moments when I lose sight of Gerry Conlon through the fog of countless cigarettes smoked during our four-hour interview. He is in Liverpool to campaign for other victims of miscarriages of justice, and we meet in a rented apartment in the city’s Chinatown. We are joined periodically by others who are there to support the cause. Each adds views on the various injustices they have suffered and each contributes to the cloud of thick smoke filling the room.

In 1974, the then 20-year-old Belfast-born Conlon was arrested over the IRA pub bombings in Guildford which killed five people. He had never been to Guildford. But along with the three other members of the group that became known as the Guildford Four, Conlon was sentenced to life in prison on the basis of false confessions made after days of mistreatment by Surrey police.


Maguire Seven: fighting for freedom from wrongful conviction

Fleeing torture in Iran

A painful awakening

Conlon’s father, Giuseppe, was also imprisoned as part of a group known as the Maguire Seven. The basis of their convictions was forensic evidence – later discredited – which the prosecution claimed proved they had handled explosives used in the bombings. The group, including Patrick Maguire who was just 13 when he was arrested, were sentenced to between four and 14 years in prison.

In 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of the Guildford Four when it was found that crucial alibi evidence – proving Conlon could not have done the bombings – had not been shown to the defence. There was also evidence of police collusion on fabricating the statements – the only evidence produced against them at the original trial. The Maguire Seven later had their convictions overturned, but by this time they had all served their sentences and been released, except Giuseppe Conlon who, already in failing health when he was arrested, died after five years in prison.

The Gerry Conlon that stood outside the High Court in London after his release was a triumphant and charismatic figure. He told massed press and supporters that he was an innocent man who had spent 15 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He vowed to clear his late father’s name and fight for the release of others, like the Birmingham Six and the Bridgwater Three, who had been wrongly convicted.

This is the Conlon that played repeatedly on the news bulletins. And this is the man portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis as the star of In the Name Of the Father, the partly fictionalised 1993 film based on Conlon’s autobiography. But Conlon’s feelings of triumph were short-lived and he was far from ready for the outside world.

“If you spend a few weeks in the Big Brother house, you get counselling when you leave to prepare you for life outside. I spent 15 years being moved from one terrible prison to the next, being treated like I was lower than the worst kind of paedophile. When I got released I was given £34.90 and told to go.”

When long-term prisoners come up for release, they are slowly reintroduced to the outside world, with supervised day releases, then weekend releases. When wrongful convictions are quashed, prisoners leave straight away, with no preparation for how to cope with life on the outside.

Conlon was initially on a high after his release. He put everything into making good his pledge to get the convictions of the Birmingham Six overturned. After months of frantic campaigning, he went back to his mother’s house in Belfast to take a break when suddenly the impact of what he had been through hit him.

“I came out of the bathroom and my father, who’d died years earlier, was sitting on the settee in prison pyjamas and a prison dressing gown. Since then I haven’t been able to get the terrible images out of my head.

“I never had one suicidal thought in prison. Now I have them all the time. I haven’t been able to have a relationship, I’ve turned to alcohol and drugs, it’s a constant waking nightmare.”

More than twenty years after his release, the man sitting in front of me is no less eloquent and determined than the angry 35-year old who stood outside court, but his mind has never escaped from prison. He speaks lyrically, without pause, recalling full names, exact dates and locations of the grim landmarks of his ordeal. But at every turn he is visibly haunted by the terrible memories that won’t stay in the past and the injustices which continue in the present.

Conlon believes that because their case caused such political embarrassment, there was what he calls a “whispering campaign” around Westminster after their release. That although their conviction was quashed, the authorities wanted people to think they were freed on a technicality, but may actually have been guilty.

He is angry that nobody was ever punished for their wrongful imprisonment. He is also convinced that it was not just the police that lied to get them convicted. He believes the conspiracy to jail innocent people went right to the top.

“The Government knew, right from the start, that we were innocent. They knew we had nothing to do with the IRA, but they didn’t care. That’s why they have a 75-year immunity order on our case. Because they want all the people involved to be dead before they release our files.”

Because this cloud of suspicion was allowed to remain, Conlon was denied access to psychiatric treatment. It was not until 2007 that he began getting regular therapy, and even then only one hour a week. This has helped, but is far too little, coming far too late, for someone who suffered trauma on the level that he did.

“I have what they call a disassociation problem: something comes in to my head and I’m back in prison. I’m back in Wakefield, being tortured… hands behind my back, gun in my mouth, it doesn’t go away.

“The reason I took drugs and alcohol was because I couldn’t deal with what my mind was projecting. To get some relief from the nightmares, day and night.

“But then the nightmares started breaking through with a sledge hammer, and once that happened it was a question of giving up the drugs and fighting to get professional help.”

The effects of his wrongful conviction went far beyond Conlon and the others who were wrongfully convicted. Prison visits were supervised and any personal details discussed would be spread around by mischievous warders, so they stuck to discussing pleasantries.

“I’d spent months in solitary, in the dark. I’d been beaten, had people defecating in my food, putting glass in my food. I’d seen people murdered. Yet I had to tell my family they were treating me well.

“When you come out you find the relationship with your family during your time inside was built on falsehoods. I didn’t know that my mother and my sisters were being strip searched and abused when they came to see me. You can’t calculate the devastating effect it has on your family.”

As we are speaking Conlon sees a news report on the TV screen behind me about the treatment of the former Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyan Mohamed.

“Nothing has changed. The Government knew we were being tortured in the 1970s. When I hear about Binyam Mohamed it all comes back. My mind flashes back to the beatings, the threats and the mental cruelty I suffered at the hands of the police.”

Conlon has become frustrated by the lack of political will to help victims of miscarriages of justice. The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) was formed by Paddy Hill after he and other members of the Birmingham Six had their convictions quashed in 1991. Mojo is campaigning to have a trauma centre set up dedicated to helping miscarriage of justice victims after they leave prison. They get sympathetic noises from politicians but little action.

In 1997, Conlon was given half a million pounds in compensation. Giving money to victims of miscarriages of justice is likened by Conlon to giving them a “bottle of whisky and a revolver”.

“They may as well say: ‘here’s the money, now go and kill yourself.’

“They gave me £546,000 – for taking me, torturing me and framing me; taking my father, torturing him and having him die in prison; then leaving me sinking in the quicksand of my own nightmares.”

In 2005 the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven finally got a personal apology from Tony Blair. Conlon told the then Prime Minister that the apology would only mean something if it came with more help for the victims.

“Blair turned to [parliamentary private secretary] David Hanson and said: ‘David, get on to this right away.’ Since then we’ve had no help. We followed up on Tony Blair’s promise and were basically told to get lost. He lied to us – the apology means nothing.”

“If there was a trauma centre, within a year, you could probably be living a normal productive life rather than being haunted by nightmares.”

But picking up the pieces of those who have already been wrongly convicted is cure, rather than prevention. Seeing the mistreatment of suspects and innocent people going to prison makes him feel that Britain has not moved on since the 1970s.

“Back then it was the Irish, now it’s Muslims. But nobody is safe, one of the Guildford Four was English. Everyone thinks this happens to other people, but it’s closer than you think.

“Who’s to say you’re not going to be next. Look at Sally Clarke, she was a solicitor and she drank herself to death after she was wrongly convicted of killing her two sons.”

What is striking about Conlon is that while he is angry, he is amazingly lacking in bitterness. He is clearly suffering greatly with the horrors of 15 years being treated “worse than a twisted child killer”. He wants his case files released; he wants proper post-sentence care for other victims of miscarriages – but he is not consumed by hate.

A common theme he returns to is how trauma counselling is given to people who have experienced what, to him, would seem fairly mild. But every time he mentions another group getting “the best counselling available”, he pauses, and slowly emphasises, “and so they should, and so they should. But what about us?”

Conlon is now “full of” psychiatric drugs, and his terrifying flashbacks continue. But through the pain caused by his years in prison he finds some purpose.

“I want my father’s death to count for something. It’s the hardest thing you can imagine to be put in prison for something you didn’t do. If I can do something to stop it happening to other people my life will have meant something.”

With many thanks to : The Telegraph.






29TH APRIL 2013 


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.”


Convictions of McConville and Wootten Unsafe: ILDC

The Irish Law & Democracy Committee

Shortly after Girvan LJ convicted Brendan McConville and John Paul Wotton of the murder of PSNI Officer Stephen Carroll, ACC Drew Harris, head of Criminal Investigations and Special Branch in the PSNI, made a point of walking over to the Chief Prosecution Lawyer Ciaran Murphy QC and shook his hand and congratulated him. Such an over zealous push for convictions at all costs and cries of Justice which emanated from the PSNI in the aftermath of the judgement appear to be a premature exultation of righteousness that hide a somewhat Kafkaesque style of justice.

The basis of such an assertion lies in the evidence adduced in the course of the trial, which appears deeply suspect and worrying from a human rights standpoint, and that does not appear to meet the required standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction. Various aspects of the witness testimony, the forensic analysis and the fact that substantive weight was given to the inferences from the defendants failure to testify on their own behalf, whilst the remaining elements were made up of somewhat dubious circumstantial evidence.

While it is not even clear that either McConville or Wootton fired the fatal shot from the AK 47 assault rifle on the night of March 9th, 2009, that killed 48-year-old Constable Carroll Lord Justice Girvan, stated that while the evidence against the two men was circumstantial, the case was nonetheless “compelling” and they “were both intimately involved” in the murder.

This is contracdicted in much of the facts. Witness ‘M’ the main witness identifying one of the defendants only came forward 11 months after the incident. Thereafter he was seen to be evasive and confused about numerous aspects of his testimony. One issue the identification of one of the defendants raised numerous issues, he claimed his eyesight was perfect, however a defence lawyer asserted he was “as blind as a bat” and was on expert evidence seen to be defective. Moreover he staed he was only 50% sure under cross examination if this person he claims he saw in the time before the incident was one of the defendants, a point which varied from a substantially higher ratio. However, most notably his partner did not corroborate his evidence nor did a local man near the scene on the night, whilst CCTV evidence clearly contradicted some of his assertions. Furthermore it was asserted that witness M was alleged to have been prone to heavy drinking and was aleged to have rung the police drunk on a number of occassions whilst it was suggestedthat he was benefiting financially from the witness protection scheme.

This is outside of two substantial aspects that deserve further investigation in relation to this case. Firstly, the British army surveillance equipment that was removed from a vehicle, alleged to have been used on the night in question, by the SSR (Special Recconnassaince Regiment) and tampered with, removing vital data. Secondly, the naming of an Agent involved by a defence lawyer during the trial, as Officer Commanding the Continuity IRA, raises a number of very substantive issues, and begs the question to which agency was he alleged to have been working for and reporting to.

This case, like many in the 1980s and 90s points to security force involvement in the course of events and raises the possibility that an agent provecateur may have been active in this instance, which raises worring substantive legal issues. Moreover, the entire proceedings in this case appear entirely prejudiced against the defendants so much so that considering the recent conviction of Brian Shivers in relation to the deaths at Masserene Barracks and this recent decision calls into serious question whether dissident republican suspects can get a fair trial in the North.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : The Irish Law & Democracy Committee

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