” We are innocent and we do not believe that we received a fair hearing ” – Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton.
TWO men convicted of murdering PSNI officer Stephen Carroll have protested their innocence, claiming they are victims of a ” miscarriage of justice “. Speaking for the first time since their conviction in May, Brendan McConville (41) from Craigavon and John Paul Wootton (20) from Lurgan claim they were not responsible for murdering the policeman who was shot dead during an ambush in March 2009.
The 48-year-old died after being shot in the head during a sniper attack in Craigavon, Co Armagh, after he and his colleagues were lured to a 999 call-out in Craigavon. The Continuity IRA ( CIRA ) later claimed responsibility for killing of the policeman who was the first officer killed since the formation of the PSNI. Following their trial McConville was sentenced to serve a minimum of 25 years while Wootton was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years. The pair had maintained their innocence throughout the police investigation and trial although neither gave evidence in their defence. Last month their case received high-profile support when Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully convicted of the IRA Guildford pub bombing in 1974, revealed that he was backing a campaign for their release. At the time Mr Conlon told The Irish News he had concerns about the case which he described as ” disturbing “.
An appeal hearing is expected to be held some time in the new year. In a letter to The Irish News, published blow, both men continue to claim they are ” innocent “. ” While fully understanding and empathising with the grief of the Carroll family, and with no desire to exacerbate that grief, we wish to take this opportunity to state publicly that we have been convicted of something that we had nothing to do with. We are innocent and we do not believe that we received a fair hearing at our trial under a Diplock court,” they say. ” Further to this we also believe that Justice Girvan erred in his judgement of the information presented and convicted us more on the emotional and political furore created by the case than on the evidence presented.” The two men say they intend to raise questions about the reliability of the evidence given by a witness known as M during the trial who claimed to have seen McConville at the scene of the shooting. In addition, concern was raised that information gathered by a tracking device placed in Wootton’s car by a British Army undercover unit was later lost. The pair claim authorities were under pressure to secure convictions in the case. ” In short, a case that placed us at the scene and attributed any role to us was never made, let alone proven,” they say. ” Rather, because the PSNI/MI5 were under so much pressure to obtain a conviction, evidence was constructed and altered to ‘ fit the case ‘ and not examined as pieces of information that could prove or disprove our innocence. ” Hopefully this miscarriage of justice can be over turned at our appeal and this nightmare of suffering for us and our families ended.” However, UUP justice spokesman Tom Elliott said the convictions should stand. ” As far as I am concerned they are convicted at the moment and that is the way it is,” the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said. ” We have seen in the past people who carried out heinous crimes including murder going to significant lengths to say they are innocent. ” They have the right to appeal and I am sure they will be taking that up.”
PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND GIVE YOUR SUPPORT : http://justiceforthecraigavontwo.com/
WITH MANY THANKS TO : CONNIA YOUNG, IRISH NEWS.
THE LETTER SENT TO THE IRISH NEWS
APPEAL FOR HELP IN OVERTURNING MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
ON March 30th 2012 we, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, were convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of our lives in prison for the fatal shooting of Constable Stephen Carroll on March 9 2010.
While fully understanding and empathising with the grief of the Carroll family and with no desire to exacerbate that grief, we wish to take this opportunity to state publicly that we have been convicted of something that we had nothing to do with. We are innocent and we not believe that we received a fair hearing at our trial under a Diplock court. Further to this we also believe that Justice Girvan erred in his judgement of the information presented and convicted us more on the emotional and political furore created by the case than on the evidence presented. For this reason we have instructed our legal teams to appeal our convictions. This appeal will centre on the following pieces of evidential information that were never fully dealt with by Justice Girvan. The prosecution’s key witness, witness M, despite having a prescribed impairment of his sight, claimed that he seen Brendan McConville at a distance that would be medically impossible.
It took witness M almost a year to come forward with this information and since that date he has been given anonymity and provided for in protective custody. Witness M’s account described Brendan as wearing a coat of a different style and colour from that presented by the prosecution. This coat, recovered within hours of the shooting, was dry yet the weather conditions at the time were rainy. The forensic examination of this coat and the firearm recovered after the shooting did not match. Although multiple sources of DNA were found on the coat only Brendan’s was followed up on. In short, a case that placed us at the scene and attributed any role to us was never made, let alone proven. Rather, because the PSNI/MI5 were under so much pressure to obtain a conviction evidence was constructed and altered to ‘ fit the case ‘ and not examined as pieces of information that could prove or disprove our innocence. Hopefully this miscarriage of justice can be over turned at our appeal and this nightmare of suffering for us and our families ended. Let’s not wait 15 to 20 years to deal with a miscarriage of justice. Let us do so now.
Brendan McConville, John Paul Wootton, Maghaberry Prison.
A Letter From John Paul Wootton
John Paul Wootton, an Irish political prisoner in the British Occupied North of Ireland at the age of 17
John Paul Wootton is a twenty year old Irishman who was arrested on the 10th of March 2009 at the age of seventeen by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the British paramilitary police force in the North of Ireland. He was interrogated for two weeks by PSNI officers in the most appalling of circumstances following the killing of a fellow PSNI member, Steven Carroll, on the 9th of March 2009 by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA). Despite his youth, concerns surrounding his arrest and three-year detention without trial and his nationality as a citizen of Ireland, John Paul was tried under the infamous no-jury Diplock court system which the British state has used since 1973 as part of its counter-insurgency struggle in the North of Ireland.
“John Paul Wootton – Letter To All:
My name is John Paul Wootton and I am now twenty years of age and I have been imprisoned in Maghaberry Prison for the last three years, that is, from when I was 17 years of age.
On the 10th of March 2009, while still a teenager, I was arrested and interrogated for thirteen days in relation to the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2009. From the outset of this period of interrogation I made it clear that I neither knew nor had any part in this incident and indeed the duration of my interrogation was only ended when my legal representative took out a legal injunction.
On the 30th of March 2012, after a trial before a Diplock Court [one of the British counter-insurgency non-jury courts imposed on the North of Ireland], I was convicted and sentenced to a life-sentence for the killing of Constable Carroll on the basis of a tracking device that had been fitted to my car at some point and which allegedly placed me at the scene of the shooting. However, the device in question, which had been placed there by members of MI5 [the British Security Service], went missing for a period of time and when it was finally recovered portions of the data allegedly recorded on the device were missing! These ‘gaps’ were supposedly filled by an MI5 operative who gave his evidence at the trial anonymously from behind a screen and his explanation for the data going missing was that, ‘he had left it on his desk and someone had moved and then replaced it without his knowledge’!
Additional to the missing data, the examination of my car, during the period of the missing data, also produced a brown coat that had particles of gun powder residue on it. These particles did not match the rifle or ammunition recovered by the PSNI that was claimed by the prosecution to have been the weapon that fired the fatal shot which killed Constable Carroll. This coat, which was a central piece of evidence in the case, not only did not belong to me but it had no physical connection to me, that is, no traces of my DNA, fibres or fingerprints were found on the coat.
In short, there was no physical evidence presented to the trial that linked me to this shooting rather a process of speculation and hypothesis that turned the legal principle of innocence until proven guilty on its head was applied.
During the trial my legal team attempted to tease out the anomalies of this case to demonstrate the complete lack of evidence against me, however, at each attempt they were met with the barrier of ‘Public Interest Immunity Orders’ being sought and granted to the prosecution [a controversial British government mechanism to prevent “sensitive information” being examined in court cases]. As a result of this crucial lines of inquiry about the movements of my car and the particles on the coat were denied to my defence.
As a consequence of all of the above I have instructed my legal team to appeal the conviction against me on the grounds that I did not receive a fair trial for the following reasons:
- I was refused the right to a trial by jury and instead I was tried by a single judge in a Diplock Court [a British non-jury counter-insurgency court].
- This single judge in the absence of any physical evidence against me resorted to negative inference and opinion.
- Evidence which may have assisted my defence or undermined the case against me was kept hidden from my legal team through the use of Public Interest Immunity Orders [the system of quasi-legal British government gagging orders].
- Several witnesses were granted anonymity thereby preventing the defence from properly cross-examining them.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this short description of what has happened to me and I would ask you to do all that you can to highlight this miscarriage of justice in the hope that I will get the chance of a fair trial at my appeal.
Further information on the legal detail of this case and the summary of the original trial are also contained on this web site. Please feel free to use them to demonstrate the scale of the injustice involved or to contact my legal representatives with any enquiries.
John Paul Wootton.”
Whatever one’s views on the tragic death of PSNI member Stephen Carroll and the continued campaign of armed resistance to the British Occupation in the North of Ireland, there can be no doubt that the arrest, prolonged interrogation, trial and conviction of a young Irishman, a teenage boy when first detained, in the most dubious and controversial of circumstances is not the answer.
WITH MANY THANKS TO :An Sionnach Fionn,Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
- Irish Political Prisoners And The Revolutionary Dynamic (ansionnachfionn.com)
- Its The Process, Stupid (ansionnachfionn.com)
- JUSTICE FOR THE CRAIGAVON 2 – Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wooton. (fiannaiochta.wordpress.com)
- A Letter From John Paul Wootton (ansionnachfionn.com)
- Martin Conmey’s miscarriage of justice hearing adjourned (independent.ie)
- Breaking News: Miscarriage of justice victim Sean Hodgson dies three years after release (journallive.co.uk)
- Killer cleared of explosives charge (newsletter.co.uk)
- DPP opposing appeal from Guerin killer (independent.ie)