'Disgust' over Carroll killer's sentence

Published Monday, 21 May 2012
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The widow of murdered police officer Stephen Carroll has expressed her disgust over the 14-year jail term handed down to one of two men found guilty of her husband's killing in Craigavon three years ago.

'Disgust' over Carroll killer's sentence
Kate Carroll with her son Shane outside Laganside Court in Belfast (© Pacemaker)

Former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville and 21-year-old John Paul Wootton were found guilty back in March, despite protesting their innocence throughout a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Given automatic life sentences, McConville was told on Monday he'd have to spend a minimum of 25 years in prison. Wootton, who was just 17 at the time of the shooting, was given the lesser minimum tariff of 14 years.

The defendants made no reaction as Lord Justice Paul Girvan passed sentence on them.

Their sentence has begun - ours will never end.

Kate Carroll

But outside court, Kate Carroll criticised Wootton's 14-year term as no deterrent for other young people.

She also hit out at the differences between Northern Ireland and England when it comes to sentencing - as in England, anyone who kills a police officer faces 30 years in prison.

"It should be the same everywhere - you can't make exceptions in one country. It's disgusting," Kate said.

"It gives the message out that it's fine to kill a policeman here, because you get a rap on the knuckles. Justice has been done? Not for us it hasn't. Stephen is still in his grave."

Earlier on Monday, a prosecution QC had told the court that, while the case regarding Wootton - who was just 17 at the time of the killing - was different as he was a young person, there were no mitigating factors regarding McConville.

The judge described McConville and Wootton as "self-appointed executioners" rejected by society.

"No person with any sense of humanity or compassion could fail to be moved by seeing or reading of the devastation visited because self-appointed executioners decided that they are entitled to sacrifice a life, in furtherance of terrorist goals roundly rejected by right-thinking members of society," he said.

Any terrorist who continues to activate that terrorism at this point in time must be deterred from continuing in that course and any sentence must reflect that need for deterrence.

Lord Justice Paul Girvan

Wootton's mother Sharon was also handed a 12-month jail term, but it was suspended for three years.

She had pleaded guilty during the trial to obstructing the police investigation into Constable Carroll's murder, by removing computer equipment from the home where she and her son both lived ahead of searches.

Constable Carroll had been just two hours from the end of his shift, when he and some of his colleagues were lured to the Lismore Manor area of Craigavon.

Those behind the plot ensured police would be drawn into the estate by breaking the window of a house, prompting the unsuspecting residents to call 999.

The 48-year-old was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head, from an AK-47 assault rifle.

He was the first PSNI member to be killed by dissident republicans since the force replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary and his death came just two days after the fatal gun attack on Massereene Army barracks.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
19 Comments
Mick in Armagh wrote (798 days ago):
@Liam so you believe that 14 years is fair. Regardless of it being a Police Officer you believe that someone who goes and gets a gun, lies in wait in the dark and shoots a person deliberately, with full knowledge of their actions should only get a 14 year sentence. I appears there is an alterior motive for your beliefs. Is it because it is a Police Officer? Do you really believe that he should have walked free instead? On the mainland the murderof a Police Officer is a minimum sentence of 30 years. In the Republic its 40 years.
seamas in belffast wrote (800 days ago):
Robert Brannigan. How long should Private Ian Thain or Scots Guards Fisher and Wright have served? They all three served less than 2 years each for murder.
Robert Brannigan in Belfast wrote (800 days ago):
14 years, is not long for the murder of a police officer I thhink the sentence should be doubled 28 to 30 years. He new what he was doing
Oliver in Derry wrote (801 days ago):
Paul Given's apparent concern about the sentence seems a bit cynical given that his party is quite happy to share power with another party some of whose members were responsible for murdering many police.No doubt the D P P in the face of the usual media storm may well refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.The Executive have in future another solution namely to pass the appropriate legislation.It would be interesting to see the Sinn Fein attitude to any proposed legislation for heavier sentences for the murder of police.Im sure Jim Allister would have a field day!
liam in belfast wrote (801 days ago):
@mick, the sentence was 14 years, which i said was fair. its all well and good saying murderers should get life but lets face it, they never do. the point i was making is that in our system, this is a hefty sentence. People who murder civilians get out in less than 10, why is there never an outcry then? If Stephen Carroll was a civilian people would be happy with these sentences.
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