Lured to his death

A COLLEAGUE of Constable Stephen Carroll was left delirious and pointing his gun in different directions after the policeman was shot dead as he sat beside him in a patrol car.

Details of the 2009 attack were heard in Belfast Crown Court yesterday (Monday) on the first day of the trial into the PSNI officer’s murder in Craigavon.

In an opening statement for the prosecution barrister Ciaran Murphy told the court that Constable Carroll had been shot as he sat in the driver’s seat of the silver Skoda police car. His colleague, who sat in the passenger seat, was said to be left in a state of panic after two shots were fired from a grassy bank 50 metres away.

“The passenger appeared delirious and was pointing his weapon in a number of directions,” the QC told the court. “The passenger said ‘my driver’s dead’.”

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (40) from Aldervale in Tullygally, and John Paul Wootton (20) from Collingdale in Craigavon, deny murdering the 48-year-old constable, as well as the other related charges they face.

Wootton’s mother, Sharon Wootton, is accused of perverting the course of justice in relation to the subsequent police investigation of the shooting. The 39-year-old denies the charge.

The prosecuting barrister told the court the aim of the attack was to kill any police officer, and that the Banbridge policeman was lured to his death. A 999 call had been made after a brick was thrown through the window of a house in Lismore Manor. Constable Carroll was one of a number of officers who responded to the incident and was killed by a single bullet wound to the head, fired from an AK47 rifle, while he sat in the police car at the scene.

The barrister said, “The attack was designed to kill any police officer that attended the scene that night. Constable Carroll and fellow officers were lured into the area in order that a gun attack could be perpetrated on him and other officers.”

The court also heard that undercover soldiers were bugging a car owned by John Paul Wootton prior to the shooting and that the car, which had been parked close to the scene of the attack, was driven off just minutes after the murder.

The trial, which began this week after having been delayed in December when Ms Wootton applied to change her solicitors, is expected to last up to two months.

Constable Carroll’s widow Kate sat yards away in the public gallery as proceedings began.