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Justice For The Craigavan Two

by Justice For The Craigavan Two Campaighn

From The Publice Relations Officer of The Justice For Craigavan Two Campaighn

On the 9th March 2009 Police Constable Stephen Carroll was shot and killed while responding to an emergency 999 call in the Craigavon area. The following day police arrived at the home of Brendan McConville, a local republican, and placed him under arrest. Later that morning, John Paul Wootton, another republican from the area, was arrested in the Craigavon area and had his vehicle seized.Both men were taken to Antrim for interrogation where they, along with a number of other individuals, were detained while the vehicle owned by John Paul Wootton was taken to Maydown Barracks in Derry for examination. Some days later police recovered the weapon used in the shooting from the rear garden of a house in the Pinebank housing estate in Craigavon. Around the same time a brown jacket with traces of DNA from Brendan McConville amongst others, and a residue which was claimed might have come from a firearm, was taken from the boot of the vehicle owned by John Paul Wootton.Based on this finding, and under intense pressure to get results, police focused their attentions on these two men and set about constructing a case against them. The reason the police were under so much pressure was that Constable Carroll was the first police officer to be killed since the Good Friday Agreement. Adding to the pressure was the fact that this shooting took place within days of an attack on Masssereen Barracks where two British soldiers were killed.It later transpired that the car owned by John Paul Wootton had been subject to covert surveillance at the time of the attack by means of a tracking device which had been hidden either in or on the vehicle by the British Army. This device provided data on the movement of the vehicle around the time of the shooting. It would later come to light that data from this device was wiped while the device was still in the possession of the Army. No one could explain why this had happened. The remainder of the data was used to construct a circumstantial yet arguably weak case against the two men.Eleven months after the shooting a local man contacted the police in the middle of the night on Valentines night and, under the influence of alcohol, claimed to have seen Brendan McConville close to the area from which the shooting occurred on the night of the shooting. It should be borne in mind that in the eleven months from the shooting to this man’s statement, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton had been charged with the shooting and their identities were widely broadcast throughout the media.This man, known only to the court as Witness M, lied continuously under oath while giving evidence. He was adamant that he had no problems with his eyesight and when asked if he had been prescribed glasses he claimed that he did occasionally wear glasses, but only as a fashion item. It was only on day two of his testimony, when confronted with evidence acquired by Brendan McConville’s legal team from an optician in Lurgan where he had previously underwent an eyesight examination, that he conceded that he had been prescribed glasses but this time claimed that they were just for reading. Evidence later given in court would show that in fact Witness M suffered from both astigmatism and shortsightedness and could only identify facial features up to half the distance at which he claimed to identify Brendan McConville. At the conclusion of the case the single judge, relying heavily on circumstance and inference, found both men guilty and sentenced them to life in prison. In the aftermath of the convictions, Family and friends organised the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign Group, which campaigns against this miscarriage of justice, the group quickly attracted high profile support from Gerry Conlon (Guildford 4) who became the Chairman of JFTC2 and Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6) MOJO director, it also attracted many different individuals and human rights groups who said they were seriously concerned about the case and would be attending as independent observers.The Appeal started on Monday the 29th of April but what transpired in the opening few minutes was astounding, the Prosecution said that new ‘evidence’ had came to light from a covert operation that a suspect had been arrested and questioned and they wanted the appeal adjourned for 6 months for this new ‘evidence’ to be investigated.The defense straight away pointed out that this new ‘evidence’ was in fact an attempt to sabotage the appeal process, that the suspect arrested was actually a new defense witness who is a close relative of the main prosecution Witness (M) from the original trial, the defense said that this new witness had signed an affidavit completely rubbishing Witness Ms account in the original trial, the new witness had said that witness M was known in the family as a pathological liar and he was commonly known in his own family as Walter Mitty. The defense then said that the PSNI had forced their way into the new witnesses home and intimidated him in an effort to get him to retract his statement, this failed and the following day the witness was arrested and held for two days in custody and pressure was applied in an effort to force him to submit to a contrived opinion that the defense had pressured him into making the affidavit.These actions by the PSNI are obviously a criminal attempt to disrupt and perjure the appeals of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton it is also a serious threat to the right to a legal defense as it has been revealed the defense counsel has been subjected to a covert operation the defense now wants an independent body to oversee the PSNI investigation of the matter as they believe the force is incapable of carrying it out within the remit of legality.Faced with the new revelations the court of appeal adjourned the Appeal until October.The JFTC2 Campaign group condemns the PSNI, the PPS and the covert agencies involved in this travesty of justice we call on the world to watch how justice is administered in the North of Ireland a so called democracy.In the words of Gerry Conlon, ” it seems the first casualty of the peace process has been the justice system.”PRO, JFTC2Find links to news media

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