Northern Ireland

Stephen Carroll murder accused John Paul Wootton 'sought address'

Constable Stephen Carroll
Image caption Constable Stephen Carroll was killed in March 2009

A man accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll tried to collect information on another policeman for republicans, a court has heard.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

John Paul Wootton, 20, and Brendan McConville, 40 both deny murder.

Mr Wootton is also alone accused of attempting to collect or record information useful to terrorists in the months before the shooting.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, video taped interviews of two witnesses, identified only as 'B' and 'E', were played to the court in which they claimed Mr Wootton tried to establish the address of a girl whose father was a serving police officer.

Both witnesses said that, to them, Mr Wootton "was being brainwashed", and one even described him as "an idiot" who often pretended to be part of something he was not.

In the first of the taped police interviews, Witness E said Mr Wootton had asked him if he was going out with a girl whose father was a policeman.

He then allegedly asked for her address, which E refused, telling him the man did not deserve to be shot as a policeman.

He said Mr Wootton replied: "A cop is a cop".

Witness E said that to him Mr Wootton was always "big headed... he was always letting on he was part of something he wasn't... he would say he had been given orders and he had certain things to do".

He added that while Wootton implied he was affiliated to Republican Sinn Fein, or other dissident republican groups, he thought he was only trying to make himself look important and big.

'Brainwashed'

Until then Witness E said he had thought of Mr Wootton as "an idiot... I thought he was being brainwashed".

Witness B, in his taped interview, said he even told Mr Wootton "he was being brainwashed", and believed he was "being forced along... but did not realise he could back off".

He said Mr Wootton had "branched off" from his normal group of friends and began selling papers for Republican Sinn Fein.

He further claimed to him, Mr Wootton seemed "ashamed" and had only got involved with others after he was approached "so many times".

When the case resumes on Monday, evidence of gunshot residue will be given to the court.

On trial with Mr McConville of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon and Mr Wootton, of Collindale in Lurgan, is Mr Wootton's 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address.

She is accused of perverting justice.

More on this story