Northern Ireland

Constable Stephen Carroll's widow disgusted at killer's sentence

The widow of murdered policeman Stephen Carroll has expressed disgust at the 14 year minimum sentence imposed on one of her husband's killers.

John Paul Wootton, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years to be served before he is considered for parole.

Brendan McConville will serve a minimum of 25 years for the murder.

Constable Carroll, 48, was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

Outside the court, his widow Kate said she was disgusted at the term imposed on Wootton, saying he had shown no remorse.

She later added that the term would not act as a sufficient deterrent to other young people.

She said the trial had been like going through a "jail sentence of our own".

"Stephen is never going to come back, that's our life sentence," she added.

"At least when they finish their sentence they can get out again, but our life sentence is for an eternity."

McConville, 41, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and Wootton, 21, of Collindale, Lurgan, were found guilty of the murder in March.

Constable Carroll was the first member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to be murdered.

He died just 48 hours after two soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA at an army base in Antrim.

At the time of the murder the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the killing.

In a victim impact statement read out in court the constable's widow said her husband's death had been "heartbreaking and gutwrenching" and that she had lost her soulmate.

The judge said terrorism had been "wholly rejected, as demonstrated by the will of the people" and that any sentence had to reflect the "need for deterrence".


Image caption Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in March 2009

"No person with any sense of humanity or compassion could fail to be moved by seeing or reading of the devastation visited, because self-appointed executioners decided that they are entitled to sacrifice a life in furtherance of terrorist goals roundly rejected by right-thinking members of society," he added.

He said those convicted had failed to show any remorse, but the statements from Constable Carroll's family were moving.

"These statements illustrate graphically the dreadful losses," he said.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they would "take time to study the sentencing comments and the custodial terms imposed."

Mrs Carroll said she believed not everyone connected with her husband's murder had been caught.

"I think there are more out there, because witness M was saying in the court that he saw more than four that night, so obviously there are at least two to three people left who have to account for the murder of my husband," she said.

She said she now wanted to start up a fund in her husband's name and work with young children "in an effort to keep them off the streets so they won't be indoctrinated into the same thinking as Mr McConville and Mr Wootton".

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