Widow remains dignifed just feet away from killers

KATE Carroll was just feet away from the two men convicted of killing her husband Stephen in court as she saw a three-year battle for justice come to a partial close with the jailing of both killers.

Dressed in a bright pink cardigan and colourful top, the widow held her head high during the final day of a lengthy trial and was supported by her son Shane and other members of her and Constable Carroll’s family.

The still-grieving relatives were in the public gallery where supporters of the three defendants - dressed in grey - also sat, watching as the judge delivered his judgement that McConville would spend 25 years in jail while Wootton would serve at least a 14-year term.

McConville, of Glenholme Avenue in Craigavon and Wootton of Collindale in Lurgan, were both convicted in March of murder and possession of firearms with intent. Wootton faced a further charge of attempting to collect or make a record of information likely to be useful to a terrorist for which he received a three-year sentence.

The judge said they were “self-appointed executioners” in the case.

Wootton’s 39-year-old mother had pleaded guilty to removing computers from her home in Lurgan as police investigated - and the judge remarked that she was “clearly not an intelligent woman”.

Kate, Stephen’s wife of 24 years, was present for almost every day of the trial which revealed precise details of her husband’s murder from the impact of the bullet on his skull to the moment colleagues heard a shot and realised he had been killed.

And yesterday she maintained her composure as ever as the men were sentenced - but showed her disgust at the leniency of John Paul Wootton’s sentence.

At one point, as the judge compared details of the case with that of Brian Shivers who was convicted fo the murder of two soldiers just days before Constable Carroll’s murder in 2009, she shook her head in agreement at his remarks that one life lost is of no less importance than two or more.

Supporters of John Paul Wootton sniggered and smiled as he was handed a 14-year sentence.

While’s Kate’s fight for justice took a step towards closure this week, she remains adamant that all her beloved husband’s killers should be brought to justice.

“There are a lot more people still to be caught,” said the grandmother. “It unnerves me to know there are people out there maybe planning to do the same thing all over again. But the police are doing their very best to keep them off the streets.”