Carroll murder sentences prompts review

Published Monday, 11 June 2012
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A minimum sentence for murdering a police officer could be set during a review of sentencing legislation by Justice Minister David Ford.

Carroll murder sentences prompts review
Kate Carroll, with a photo of her husband Constable Stephen Carroll. (© Pacemaker)

The minister revealed he will look into an appropriate starting point for a life sentence tariff, following an outcry over the jail time for one of the men found guilty of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.

Last month, John Paul Wootton, 21, was told he will spend 14 years behind bars for his part in the fatal shooting in Craigavon in 2009.

Constable Carroll's widow, Kate, said the sentence was "disgusting" and feared the lesser sentence handed to Wootton because of his age would not deter others from terrorism.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, referred the sentence to the Court of Appeals on the grounds of undue leniency.

Mr Ford said the "strong public reaction to the sentence" prompted the review. Under current legislation in Northern Ireland, sentencing is at the discretion of the court, and there is no minimum term for the murder of a police officer.

"After the Court of Appeal has ruled on the case before it, I intend to undertake a review of the legislation governing the setting of starting tariffs for murder where the court has passed a life sentence," he explained.

"While the details of this review are still being developed, it will include, but not be limited to, the murder of police officers."

Mr Ford said although sentencing in individual cases must be made by an independent judiciary, "it is the role of Government to determine the legislative framework within which courts make their decisions".

Two lay members, one representing victims, will be appointed to the Judicial Sentencing Group alongside the Lord Chief Justice.

© UTV News
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2 Comments
Lurgan Parent in Lurgan wrote (773 days ago):
Well done to Kate and the young people of "Not in My Name" who organised the "Northern Ireland Youth for Justice" Campaign on facebook and highlighted the discrepancies between here and the rest of the UK and Ireland on sentencing tariffs.
elf in belfast wrote (774 days ago):
A life sentence should mean life. If they were in the USA they would never be out, thats if they were lucky to escape the death penalty. I feel for Kate Carroll and the pain that has been caused must be unimaginable. Stiff sentencing will also set to reduce the likelihood of people offending.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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