On the 30th of March 2012 we, Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton, were convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of our lives in prison, for the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2010.
While We fully understanding and empathise with the grief of the Carroll family and with no desire to exacerbate that grief, we wish to take this opportunity to state publicly that we have been convicted of something that we had nothing to do with, we are innocent and we do not believe that we received a fair hearing at our trial under a diplock court.
Further to this we also believe that Justice Girvan erred in his judgement of the information presented and convicted us more on the emotional and political furore created by the case than on the evidence presented. For this reason we have instructed our legal teams to appeal our convictions.
This appeal will centre on the following pieces of evidential information that were never fully dealt with by Justice Girvan, they are;
- The prosecutions’ key witness, witness M, despite having a prescribed impairment of his sight, claimed that he seen Brendan Mc Conville at a distance that would be medical impossible,
- It took witness M almost a year to come forward with this information and since that date he has been given anonymity and provided for in protective custody.
- Witness M’s eye-witness account described Brendan as wearing a coat of a different style and colour from that presented by the prosecution,
- This coat, recovered within hours of the shooting, was dry yet the weather conditions at the time were rainy,
- The forensic examination of this coat and the fire-arm recovered after the shooting did not match,
- Although multiple sources of DNA were found on the coat only Brendans’ were followed up on,
- A tracking device that had allegedly been planted on John Paul’s car by MI5 and was used as evidence to place us at the scene of the shooting, went ‘missing’ for a period of time, only to be returned in an altered state and “with data missing”,
- Although the assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition used in the shooting were recovered no forensic link was made with either of us.
In short a case that placed us at the scene and attributed any role to us was never made, let alone proven. Rather, because the PSNI/MI5 were under so much pressure to obtain a conviction, evidence was constructed and altered to ‘fit the case’ and not examined as pieces of information that could prove or disprove our innocence.
Hopefully this miscarriage of justice can be over turned at our appeal and this nightmare of suffering for us and our families ended. However, after the experience we have already had we do not have a great deal of confidence in the criminal justice system, hence, we are asking you, the public, to follow the course of our appeal and to see for yourself the manner in which information is dealt with and how ‘justice’ is being administered in your name. Let’s not wait 15 – 20 years to deal with a miscarriage of justice, let us do so now,
Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton.
Maghaberry Jail Co. Antrim