Pair found guilty of Constable Stephen Carroll murder

A FORMER Sinn Fein Councillor and a 20-year-old man have been found guilty of murdering PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in 2009.

Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, had both maintained their innocence throughout the trial.

The 48-year-old constable was the first PSNI officer to be murdered.

He was shot dead after terrorists lured police to a call-out at Lismore Manor in Craigavon on the night of March 9, 2009.

McConville and Wootton will be sentenced at a later date.

The trial judge, Lord Justice Girvan, expressed his sympathies to Mrs Carroll, who was in the court to hear the verdict. She hugged her son on hearing the judgement.

The judge took three weeks to assess the evidence ahead of delivering his reserved judgements.

He told Belfast Crown Court that McConville and Wootton were “active and committed supporters of a republican campaign of violence”.

He said the men were “intimately involved” in the planning of the murder of Constable Carroll.

The court heard that the evidence of Witness M was crucial in convicting the two men.

He had placed McConville at the scene of the murder on the night in question. He also saw Wootton’s car parked nearby and saw it leave shortly afterwards.

Mr Girvan said that Witness M’s evidence had never been contradicted and called the murder a “joint enterprise”.

The judge said that the killing was callous and cowardly. He said Constable Carroll was shot dead simply because he was a police officer and his identity was irrelevant to his killers.

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

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