Support The Justice For The Craigavon Two Campaign
In March 2012, Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were convicted of murder in a no-jury Diplock Court presided over by a single judge, Lord Justice Paul Girvan, at Belfast Crown Court for their part in the killing of Stephen Carroll, a member of the north of Ireland’s paramilitary police force, the PSNI/RUC, in the Craigavon area in 2009. They were subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. Brendan McConville was given a “tariff”(the minimum amount of time to be served before being considered for release) of at least 25 years and John Paul Wootton a tariff of 14 years. In October, 2014, John Paul Wootton’s tariff was increased to 18 years by an appeal initiated by Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory.
It was glaringly apparent throughout the entire judicial process and trial of the Craigavon Two which included secret evidence, secret witnesses, a high level of blatant manipulation by the British secret services and a plethora of blatantly irregular questionable legal machinations, that John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville were not only the subject of a miscarriage of justice but were themselves the victims of hasty scapegoating by the British establishment. Sounds familiar? Well, certainly victims of some of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in legal history, thought so too, including the late Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four and Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, and many other judicial watchdog groups declaring their belief that the Craigavon Two’s convictions were unsound. Paddy Hill, who now heads up the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, made the following series of comments after closely familiarising himself with the case,
“We don’t just jump into bed with anyone because they say they are innocent… The evidence in this case is very flimsy and very dodgy and i see this happening all the time……You are making a judgement on the evidence produced and on the evidence produced i don’t believe these boys are guilty………This case throws up more questions than answers and the more you look at the prosecution evidence the more you become confused because the half of it does not make sense at all….It’s not about politics, it’s about one thing and one thing only justice, innocence or guilt.”
Case Facts, Synopsis & Court transcripts
Both Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were tried, convicted and sentenced in a non jury ‘Diplock’ court, presided over by a single judge. The Diplock court resembles more a military court-martial rather than an open and transparent civilian court you would expect from a western democracy, such as United kingdom.
- The prosecution star witness did not come forward until eleven months after the shooting by which time Brendan McConville’s name had been widely broadcast in the media.
- The prosecution star witness continuously lied under oath.
- The prosecution star witness contacted the police on a number of occasions while drunk or drinking, including on the first occasion he had contacted them in the middle of the night.
- The prosecution star witness was proved to be suffering from astigmatism and short sightless and would have difficulty identifying facial features at more than eight yards.
- The distance between the path along which the prosecution star witness walked and the electricity box, where he claimed to have seen Brendan McConville is just over sixteen yards.
- The prosecution star witness was accompanied by his partner on the night in question, yet she is unable to confirm his version of events.
- The prosecution star witness conceded never having spoken to Brendan McConville before, and living away from the area for some years.
- The prosecution star witness is in receipt of a weekly income from the PSNI. He also receives an allowance for childcare and has had loans and overseas holidays facilitated for his children along with other financial benefits.
- An anonymity order was sought by the prosecution and awarded on behalf of their star witness. This prevented the media from publishing any details about the witness’ name or description. This order meant that if someone had information that could contradict or undermine the witness’ account or character, they would not know to bring this information to the attention of the court.
- The prosecution sought and were awarded an order to allow their star witness to give his evidence via a video link up facility, even though his identity had been disclosed to Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. Added to this is the fact that no members of the public were permitted to enter the court. This had the effect of making it impossible to fully judge the demeanour of the witness.
- Large extracts of the prosecutions star witness statement to the police had been redacted.
- The prosecution star witness gave evidence that when he claimed to have seen Brendan McConville, he was wearing a knee length, green army coat with a German logo. The coat recovered from a vehicle with the DNA of Brendan McConville on it was a brown waist length jacket.
- The jacket discovered in the vehicle which was owned by John Paul Wootton and claimed by the prosecution to have been used on the night of the shooting was completely dry, even though it had rained very heavily that night.
- The prosecution expert conceded that along with the DNA of Brendan McConville there were mixed profiles of at least three other peoples DNA on the coat and possibly as many as eight.
- The prosecution expert conceded that DNA could have been distributed on the coat as a result of Brendan McConville speaking over it or sneezing over it while in the car on another occasion.
- The prosecution expert conceded that a residue discovered on the coat may be from a non-firearm source.
- When the police searched the homes of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton they were asked to seize any clothing and footwear that were wet or muddy. No such items were found.
- Shortly after the shooting police discovered a fire in the Drumbeg estate adjacent to the housing development where Constable Carroll was shot. On closer examination they found that items of clothing had been burnt.
- The vehicle owned by John Paul Wootton and claimed by the prosecution to have been used in some way in the shooting was not parked close to the scene of the attack but was in fact parked just short of one quarter of a kilometre away, in the middle of a housing estate adjacent to the housing development where Constable Carroll was shot.
- The vehicle claimed by the prosecution to have been involved in the shooting did not make a hasty get away but in fact did not even leave the area where it had been parked until ten minutes after the shooting.
- A tracking device fitted to the vehicle shows that the vehicle at no time went anywhere near the housing estate where the AK47 used in the shooting was later discovered.
- Data from the tracking device was mysteriously wiped while the device was in the hands of the army. No plausible explanation was ever given as to why this happened.
- Evidence given in court stated that the tracking device would register the car door being opened and closed.
- When the vehicle which police believed may have been used in the killing of a police officer was being taken away for forensic examination, at no time were the army technical officers called to examine it for suspect devices, as is the normal protocol. Instead it was removed by a civilian pick-up company, raising suggestions that the army had already accessed the vehicle earlier that night and which could account for the need to wipe the data and possibly account for the residue on the coat.
- It was claimed by the prosecution that John Paul Wootton might have dropped Brendan McConville off close to his home after the shooting as the vehicle passed close by the home of Brendan McConville after it left the housing estate where it had been parked up until ten minutes after the shooting. In reality there were only two directions available to John Paul Wootton for his journey to his own home, and both routes passed close to the home of Brendan McConville. There was no evidence from the tracking device that anyone exited the vehicle close to the home of Brendan McConville.
- The prosecution sought and were awarded Public Interest Immunity Orders to prevent the disclosure or mention any evidence which could have assisted with the defence of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton.
- When the AK47 that was used in the shooting was discovered, a partial fingerprint was found on the internal spring mechanism of the magazine. This fingerprint was checked against the fingerprints of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. No matches were found.
- When the prosecution star witness came forward, the police failed to carry out the mandatory identification parade thus denying Brendan McConville the protection of the code. The code exists to protect the suspect.
- Lord Justice Girvan, the presiding judge and notional jury, asked the prosecution barrister if he could draw an adverse inference against Brendan McConville because of the police failure to carry out an identification parade. Even the prosecution barrister seemed somewhat taken aback by this and answered “no”.
- Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were denied the right to a trial by a jury of their peers but instead had a Diplock trial with a single judge acting as what the court terms a “notional jury”.
- There was no evidence that Brendan McConville or John Paul Wootton had participated in any event leading to the death of Constable Carroll.
SYNOPSIS OF STATE EVIDENCE
Brendan letter 3 (DNA and tracking device.)
Court Transcripts FORENSICS
How You Can Help Fight This Miscarriage of Justice
Support the Justice For The Craigavon Two Campaign at every opportunity and by raising awareness in your community, online or in your trade union. This is not a politically partisan issue, it is a Human Rights Campaign. Remember, when the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six and countless other prominent victims of British ‘justice’ who later had their convictions overturned, first protested their innocence it was neither fashionable nor popular to support their plight BUT eventually what began as a metaphorical whisper regarding their innocence gained momentum until it became a global roar against injustice! Help build that momentum for the Craigavon Two now!
Discover more about the Justice For The Craigavon Two Campaign via the links below, offer your support and find out how you can help overturn this miscarriage of justice: