BACKGROUND

On the 9th March 2009 Police Constable Stephen Carroll was shot and killed while responding to an emergency 999 call in the Craigavon area.  The following day police arrived at the home of Brendan McConville, a local republican, and placed him under arrest.  Later that morning, John Paul Wootton, another republican from the area, was arrested in the Craigavon area and had his vehicle seized.

Both men were taken to Antrim for interrogation where they, along with a number of other individuals, were detained while the vehicle owned by John Paul Wootton was taken to Maydown Barracks in Derry for examination.  Some days later police recovered the weapon used in the shooting from the rear garden of a house in the Pinebank housing estate in Craigavon.  Around the same time a brown jacket with traces of DNA from Brendan McConville amongst others, and a residue which was claimed might have come from a firearm, was taken from the boot of the vehicle owned by John Paul Wootton.

Based on this finding, and under intense pressure to get results, police focused their attentions on these two men and set about constructing a case against them.  The reason the police were under so much pressure was that Constable Carroll was the first police officer to be killed since the Good Friday Agreement.  Adding to the pressure was the fact that this shooting took place within days of an attack on Masssereen Barracks where two British soldiers were killed.

It later transpired that the car owned by John Paul Wootton had been subject to covert surveillance at the time of the attack by means of a tracking device which had been hidden either in or on the vehicle by the British Army.  This device provided data on the movement of the vehicle around the time of the shooting.  It would later come to light that data from this device was wiped while the device was still in the possession of the Army.  No one could explain why this had happened.  The remainder of the data was used to construct a circumstantial yet arguably weak case against the two men.

Eleven months after the shooting a local man contacted the police in the middle of the night on Valentines night and, under the influence of alcohol, claimed to have seen Brendan McConville close to the area from which the shooting occurred on the night of the shooting.  It should be borne in mind that in the eleven months from the shooting to this man’s statement, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton had been charged with the shooting and their identities were widely broadcast throughout the media.

This man, known only to the court as Witness M, lied continuously under oath while giving evidence.  He was adamant that he had no problems with his eyesight and when asked if he had been prescribed glasses he claimed that he did occasionally wear glasses, but only as a fashion item.   It was only on day two of his testimony, when confronted with evidence acquired by Brendan McConville’s legal team from an optician in Lurgan where he had previously underwent an eyesight examination, that he conceded that he had been prescribed glasses but this time claimed that they were just for reading.  Evidence later given in court would show that in fact Witness M suffered from both astigmatism and short sightedness and could only identify facial features up to half the distance at which he claimed to identify Brendan McConville.  At the conclusion of the case the single judge, relying heavily on circumstance and inference, found both men guilty and sentenced them to life in prison.  Both men continue to maintain their innocence and with an appeal fast approaching they ask that the facts be made public so that their quest for justice does not develop into another long running saga like that of the Guilford four or the Birmingham six.

Don’t let the appeal become another whitewash or sweeping under the carpet exercise.  Help end this miscarriage of justice.

Introduction On …

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7 thoughts on “Introduction On …

  1. charlie says:

    The british justice system want someone for this so if your republican and near the scene you’ll do no matter what it is these two men being used as scapegoats

  2. Craig says:

    I consider myself a Christian and whilst I don’t agree with the taking of any life (whether it be republican, loyalist, PSNI, British Army etc.) I also don’t agree with a couple of potentially innocent men being imprisoned for the action of others, as this makes the so-called justice system no better than the person/people responsible for the killing as it creates more victims. If they have carried out this act, then society in general agrees that these men are in the correct place; however, at least give them the chance to a fair trial. I live in England and therefore can’t see how I could help in anyway; however, any suggestions would be welcome and I will endeavor to carry out any of the (reasonable) suggestions. I was contemplating writing to my local newspapers to highlight what this website has already pointed out but am worried that any letters I send would fall upon deaf ears as many of these so-called ‘unbiased’ newspapers have made up their mind that the two men in question are guilty (chances are they made their mind up before the verdict was even delivered). Going off on a tangent, I think this is one of the best examples of ‘trial by media’ in which the general public had already made their mind up due to the British propaganda machine that is the… (don’t want to mention them by name in case of any come-backs). Admittedly, I was taken in by what I read at the time of their trial and thought that these two must be guilty but I didn’t realise how flimsy the case against them actually was. I could imagine the uproar had these two men been found not guilty and as Charlie says (above), they are being used as scapegoats.

  3. I know all too well about police corruption, falsifified statements, and the Justice System. Making a complete mockery of the word ‘Justice’.
    You are right in your statement about the police ‘needing someone to pin things on in order to make it look like they know what they are doing, and are actually doing what they are paid to do.
    Far too many of us know that it’s not relevant whether or night they have the right person. If someone meets the targeted criteria, ‘That will do nicely’ in the courts opinion and the publics.
    I am currently fighting a case of wronful conviction and miscarriage of justice regarding my son, who was convicted and sentenced for ‘3 years’. Regardless of there being no evidence of his involvement in last years disorder. Forensic tests, phone checks to prove association/insightment, and CCTV footage ‘ALL CAME BACK CLEAR’.
    All that was needed to secure a conviction was him meeting the targeted criteria (class/race), and being in the area at the time. So were countless other members of the general public, but the were just classed as ‘bystanders’ if they didn’t meet the targeted criteria.
    Excessive negative media coverage at the time also helped massively in influencing judge, jury, and the public to naively, and without questioning the possibility of innocence.
    They based their decisions on ‘false information provided by police, and approved by a very discriminating CPS. along with ‘public feeling’ surrounding the disorder around the country, thanks to David Cameron, ‘anyone brought before the courts would be dealt with harshly(disregarding the law ‘as is the law), and ‘be made examples of’ regardless of guilt or innocence!
    Last years disturbances brough the perfect opportunity for all those establishments to use and abuse their power with question or consequence. A golden ticket for every opportunist to act on their personal prejudices.
    The constabulary/authorities/judicial system/government will continue in their success to broaden, secure and guarantee the class/race divide with their continuing corrupt and underhanded tactics and strategies.
    Unless we all come together and DEMAND change and Justice, it will never change.
    Whilst everyone remains defeated with the belief that ‘this is how it is, accept it’, then things will never change.
    They win ‘automatically every time’ because ‘they have no opponents’.
    We have to challenge every authority step by step in their involvement in the whole corrupt, unjust, and discriminative affair, bringing as much exposure as possible.
    How dare they ‘just decide and determine’ who’s lives they are going to ruin. Which families they are going to tear apart!
    This needs to ‘STOP NOW’.
    OUR VOICES WIL ONLY BE HEARD ‘TOGETHER’.
    Good luck in your fight. Don’t give up!

  4. susan connolly says:

    I do believe that people that were involved with last year’s disturbances, should be punished to the letter of the law. But i don.t believe that just because someone fits that certain criteria, that they should become a suspect. Good on you for fighting to clear your sons name. I always thought innocent until proven guilty, unfortunately thats not the case. We would have thought after the high profile miscarriages of the birmingham six and guildford four, that this practice would have stopped. Just recently i have been studying a case “The Rettondon Murders” And the two men who were convicted, were so on the evidence of a supergrass, who received reduced sentence for giving evidence. There is no forensic’s linking these two men, only the word of a drug dealer who was caught importing drugs. He then came up with a story and two innocent men have been locked up for fifteen years. Like these two poor men there case is flimsy. I shall highlight their plight on other sights that i visit. Get the word out.

  5. gary says:

    i think its out of order no jury a diplock court thats hitler done and look at wot happened there?????????

  6. Good luck tomorrow lads, let us hope that justice prevails.

  7. joe delaney says:

    Why is there any debate on the guilt of two republican prisoners, convicted by a Diplock court? These men are innocent because they have not been convicted in a legal court. That’s why I can say with confidence “Free McConville, Wootten and all political prisoners NOW!!

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