Stephen Carroll trial delayed

THE trial of the three people accused in connection with the murder of Banbridge policeman Stephen Carroll has been adjourned until the New Year.

Wednesday, 14th December 2011, 1:11 pm

In a major development this morning, on what was due to be the first day of the trial, a last-minute bid to change the legal representation of one of the accused saw the proceedings adjourned until January 9 following an application hearing on Friday December 16.

Brendan McConville (40) of Aldervale, Tullygally, and John Paul Wootton (20) of Collingdale, Lurgan both stand accused of murdering the policeman at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009.

They are also accused of possession of an AK47 rifle and ammunition allegedly used in the killing. They are currently in custody at Magheraberry prison.

Mr Wootton’s mother Sharon (39) stands accused of giving false information to police and of removing a computer from her home in the belief it may be searched. All three deny the charges.

At Belfast Crown Court this morning Mr Justice Paul Girvan was informed of what he called “an eleventh hour” attempt by Ms Wootton to dismiss her current legal team in place of another.

Mr Justice Girvan said he had to make various considerations with regard to the public expense through legal aid payments, a further delay to the high-profile trial and also an interest in seeing justice done in a fair way.

Following his deliberations the judge said his decision to adjourn proceedings until Friday, with a view to moving the trial to January, was “extrememly regrettable”.

Ms Wootton’s current solicitor is expected to meet her proposed new representation on Friday but Mr Justice Girvan warned there was a possibility she could have to represent herself if agreement is not met by the time the trial goes ahead in the New Year.