Two get life for policeman's murder

 

Two men were found guilty and jailed for life today for the murder of a police officer shot dead by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.

Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were convicted by Lord Justice Paul Girvan at Belfast Crown Court for their part in the ambush of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Constable Stephen Carroll.

The officer, aged 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by Republican terrorists since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look PSNI.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Continuity IRA.

Some relatives wept as McConville, of Aldervale, Tully Gally, and Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, County Armagh, heard the judge pass sentence at the end of a judgment which took more than two hours to deliver.

Con Carroll's widow Kate embraced her son Shane as the verdicts were read out.

Outside the courtroom she hugged her husband's police colleagues who had helped to investigate his murder.

The judge described the killing of Con Carroll as a "callous and cowardly crime".

Wootton was also convicted of collecting information for the use of terrorism.

He was found guilty of trying to obtain the address of another policeman weeks before the murder.

Con Carroll was shot dead two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks in Antrim town.

He died of a single gunshot wound to the head sustained as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.

The prosecution claimed he was lured to his death.

A brick had been thrown through the window of a house in the private development an hour earlier, prompting the occupants to call the police.

Lord Justice Girvan took three weeks to assess the evidence ahead of delivering his reserved judgments.

During the trial, Wootton's mother - 39-year-old Sharon Wootton, of the same address as her son - plead guilty to obstructing the police investigation into the murder.

She admitted removing computer equipment from their house ahead of police searches.

PA

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