Justice for the Craigavon 2
In addressing the continued miscarriage of justice by the Diplock Courts of the British government, the National FFAI Co-Chairmen of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America are requesting the help and support of all of our Brothers, Sisters and supporters of Freedom For All Ireland in bringing closure to the unjust conviction of John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville in the 2009 murder of PSNI Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon, Co. Armagh.
Both men have maintained their innocence since the day of their arrest. Despite the fact that the state legal team, charged with handling this case, has failed to prove the charges against Mr. Wooten and Mr. McConville, these men remain prisoners due to an unjust and biased legal system. Their arrest 5 years ago and continued imprisonment was reliant on the word of a very dubious witness, which was proven contradictory and finally discredited by forensic evidence.
Further compounding this case is the fact that the state, for reasons that can only be politically motivated, has refused to afford both men a fair trial. Had the case against John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville been brought before an American or European court, both men would have been acquitted.
Important Facts that caused the state case against these two men to fail are listed below:
- The witness, mentioned above, did not come forward for 11 months.
- This witness was intoxicated when he contacted the PSNI (the Police Service of Northern Ireland).
- This witness was found to have continuously lied under oath.
- This witness’s statements were at times contradictory to what was stated earlier.
- One of this witness’s statements was proven to have been medically impossible.
- This witness’s identity was hidden from Mr. Wooten’s and Mr. McConville’s legal defense team to prevent proper cross-examination.
- This witness benefited financially from this involvement in the case.
- A covert British army unit was found to have been involved in evidence tampering.A tracking device fitted to John Paul Wootton’s car shows that his 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 out whilst in the hands of the army. No plausible explanation was given as to why this happened.
- 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.
These are just some of the facts of this case. Mr. McConville was sentenced to 25 years, while Mr. Wooten (17 years of age at the time of his arrest) was sentenced to 14 years. The continued imprisonment of these men, despite the failure of the state and its legal team to prove their case against them, is indeed an ongoing miscarriage of justice.
John Paul Wooten, Brendan McConville, with their families and many supporters would be greatly appreciative of any assistance our AOH Brothers, Sisters, and friends feel is appropriate in helping to bring this miscarriage of justice and false imprisonment to a final closure.
Open Letter from John-Paul Wootton
My name is John Paul Wootton and I am now twenty years of age and I have been imprisoned in Maghaberry prison for the last three years (currently, it is now 5 years), that is, from I was 17 years of age.
On the 10th of March 2009, while still a teenager, I was arrested and interrogated for thirteen days in relation to the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2009. From the outset of this period of interrogation I made it clear that I neither knew nor had any part in this incident and indeed the duration of my interrogation was only ended when my legal representative took out a legal injunction.
On the 30th of March 2012, after a trial before a Diplock court, I was convicted and sentenced to a life sentence for the killing of Constable Carroll on the basis of a tracking device that had been fitted to my car at some point and which allegedly placed me at the scene of the shooting. However, the device in question, which had been placed there by members of MI5, went missing for a period of time and when it was finally recovered portions of the data allegedly recorded on the device were missing! These ‘gaps’ were supposedly filled by an MI5 operative who gave his evidence at the trial anonymously from behind a screen and his explanation for the data going missing was that, ‘he had left it on his desk and someone had moved and then replaced it without his knowledge’!
Additional to the missing data, the examination of my car, during the period of the missing data, also produced a brown coat that had particles of gun powder residue on it. These particles did not match the rifle or ammunition recovered by the PSNI that was claimed by the prosecution to have been the weapon that fired the fatal shot which killed Constable Carroll. This coat, which was a central piece of evidence in the case, not only did not belong to me but it had no physical connection to me, that is, no traces of my DNA, fibers or fingerprints were found on the coat. In short, there was no physical evidence presented to the trial that linked me to this shooting rather a process of speculation and hypothesis that turned the legal principle of innocence until proven guilty on its head was applied.
During the trial my legal team attempted to tease out the anomalies of this case to demonstrate the complete lack of evidence against me, however, at each attempt they were met with the barrier of ‘Public Interest Immunity Orders’ being sought and granted to the prosecution. As a result of this crucial lines of inquiry about the movements of my car and the particles on the coat were denied to my defense.
As a consequence of all of the above I have instructed my legal team to appeal the conviction against me on the grounds that I did not receive a fair trial for the following reasons;
- I was refused the right to a trial by jury and instead I was tried by a single judge in a Diplock court.
- This single judge in the absence of any physical evidence against me resorted to negative inference and opinion.
- Evidence which may have assisted my defense or undermined the case against me was kept hidden from my legal team through the use of Public Interest Immunity Orders.
- Several witnesses were granted anonymity thereby preventing the defense from properly cross examining them.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this short description of what has happened to me and I would ask you to do all that you can to highlight this miscarriage of justice in the hope that I will get the chance of a fair trial at my appeal.
Further information on the legal detail of this case and the summary of the original trial are also contained on this web site. Please feel free to use them to demonstrate the scale of the injustice involved or to contact my legal representatives with any enquiries.
Thank you, John Paul Wootton.
Article about Brendan McConville
Brendan McConville was born on 19th May 1971. He is the youngest son of Willie and Eileen, from Lurgan Co, Armagh, Brother to Damian, Thomas and Dwyer. Brendan is a loving Father of two boys, Sean and Caoimhin
He first attended Tanaghmore Primary school in Lurgan before moving to Craigavon with his family at the age of seven, where he attended St. Anthony’s Primary school and then on to Lismore Comprehensive. Brendan has a keen interest in the Irish language and culture, after leaving school he attended Irish language classes at the Lurgan Cumann of the Gaelic League were he obtained a gold fainne.
Brendan is passionate about community activism. In the past he, served the people of Loughside ward in Lurgan when they elected him as their local councillor in Craigavon Borough Council. Brendan is known locally as an astute articulate debater, yet is soft spoken with a smiling generous personality. He enjoys a close relationship with his family and friends and is well respected within his community.
Through out the ordeal that Brendan now finds himself he has continually denied all involvement. As can been seen, the so called evidence against him is thin or non existent. Despite these hardships and the conditions in which he finds himself, Brendan keeps his spirits up through reading and letter writing. He also helps other Prisoners interested in learning the Irish Language. For his family, he is a pillar of strength in these trying times. To all who know him he is affectionately known as “big Yandie”
Joint Letter from John-Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville
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
Further information, news, appeal updates, and actions to address this miscarriage of justice can be obtained by visiting the following website: http://justiceforthecraigavontwo.com/we-are-innocent/
Only through a united effort on the part of all Irish Americans and Irish American organizations, with American Government intervention — working together with John-Paul’s and Brendan’s supporters and legal team in the Six Counties — can this continued miscarriage of justice be brought to a final closure and two innocent young men returned to their families.
Please consider taking an active role in helping John-Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville.
What can you do to help???
- Visit the above website to learn more about the circumstances surrounding this case
- Write to your Senators and Representatives
- Write an editorial to a newspaper
- Write a letter to the British Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C.
- Explain the facts to those who will listen and encourage action on their part
What can we not do to help???
- Sit by and do nothing
Greg Seán Canning
AOH Florida State President
AOH National Director
AOH National FFAI Co-Chairman