Widow of Stephen Carroll speaks out after Channel 4 News gives platform to his killer
The widow of PSNI man Stephen Carroll has spoken out after Channel 4 News broadcast a bulletin casting doubt on the conviction of paramilitary killer Brendan McConville.
Kate Carroll stressed the strength of the evidence against McConville, after Channel 4 allowed the imprisoned dissident to claim that he was innocent.
The segment focussed on the alleged activities of an MI5 agent (whose name and photograph Channel 4 published), who was said to have assisted the McConville family while posing as a campaigner against unfair convictions.
This is an account of the news bulletin, fronted by Fatima Manji and broadcast on Wednesday night:
“McConville’s family have always maintained his innocence,” said the reporter, as a photograph was shown of a smiling Brendan with his arm round his mother.
The bulletin then said the alleged MI5 agent had contact with the McConville family around the time of his failed appeal against his conviction in 2013.
Over a different picture of himself smiling warmly, McConville then spoke to the reporter directly from prison, saying: “I believe he sabotaged my appeal.
“I felt that he had a real, genuine concern on justice.
“Little did I know that it was the hand of MI5.”
As the reporter nodded along, McConville added: “The conviction is wrong.
“It is a miscarriage of justice.
“I’d absolutely nothing to do with the events of that night at all.”
This was not challenged by the reporter.
Multiple strands of evidence had been used to convict both McConville and co-accused John Paul Wootton in 2012 (see FACTS OF THE CASE below).
WIDOW: ‘I JUST WISH THIS WAS OVER AND DONE WITH’
Kate Carroll, now aged 70 (and 10 years older than her late husband), noted the forensic evidence in the case, and the refusal of the defendants to offer some plausible alternative explanation or defend themselves in court.
“If I were in that position I would be shouting from hills – I’d be sticking up for myself,” she said.
“They had the opportunity to walk into that courthouse and say: Look – I didn’t do this.
“They would probably put me out of court, I’d be protesting that much that I didn’t do it.
“They never spoke up for themselves at all.”
She also referred to the fact the ‘Justice for the Craigavon Two’ campaign has been going on in hardline republican circles “for years and years and years,” saying now Channel 4 is “giving it credence, they’re giving it legs to run”.
Kate’s son Shane died earlier in the year from what Mrs Carroll believes was a suicidal overdose.
He was the same age as his father when he died: 48.
He was her only child, and left behind eight children of his own.
Mrs Carroll told the News Letter: “There was quite a lot of evidence there that put Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton at the scene.
“They’re not Snow White. They’ve had their role to play.
“This thing has already taken the two most precious people out of my life.
“I just wish it was all over and done with.
“I feel so sorry for Mr and Mrs McConville [Brendan’s parents], because they did seem to be nice people.
“But there was a lot to say he was there – there was a lot of evidence.
“The barrister who was acting on my behalf was threatened as well [at the appeal hearings]. He had to have a bodyguard with him everywhere... he was threatened by the IRA.
“I don’t want to see anybody going down for something they didn’t do.
“I’m sorry, but the evidence proves that he did.”
Channel 4 was contacted, but offered no response.
THE FACTS OF THE CASE:
This is a basic outline of the case against McConville.
Constable Stephen Carroll was shot with an AK47 while answering a fake 999 call in March 2009 in Craigavon.
Three years later, John Paul Wootton and McConville were convicted of his murder.
A witness testified to seeing McConville close to the murder scene on the night of the killing, and the judge said he was satisfied that he was truthful.
The judge also said he was satisfied that an effort had been made to intimidate the witness who saw McConville into “keeping his mouth shut”.
McConville’s jacket, which was covered with gunshot residue, was found in Wootton’s car, which was also covered with gunshot residue, and which had been at the scene of the incident until it drove off 10 minutes after the shooting.
Presented with this evidence, the judge said: “There is no account from the defendants.
“They have chosen to say nothing in relation to the case which is one which cries out for an explanation from each of them.
“In the circumstances the court must draw the inference, proper in the circumstances: if there were an innocent explanation they would have been easily capable of providing it to the court, but chose not to do so.”
READ MORE FROM THE NEWS LETTER:
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.