A DELEGATION campaigning for the release of two Craigavon men jailed for the Stephen Carroll murder have met the Committee on the Administration of Justice.
The CAJ met with the delegation from the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign group regarding the convictions and pending appeals of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton.
McConville, (41), and Wootton, (21) were found guilty of the PSNI constable’s murder last year and sentenced to serve a minimum of 25 and 14 years in jail respectively for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll.
Constable Carroll, 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by republican terrorists since the peace process which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the PSNI.
According to the group, it told the CAJ of its concerns regarding the original non jury trial, talking extensively about the evidence and witness testimony and why the group believe the case to be a miscarriage of justice.
The group asked the CAJ to provide independent oversight of the appeal process.
The CAJ, who also met the pair’s legal team, agreed to send observers to the appeal which is scheduled to start on April 29.
Speaking to the Mail, Brian Gormally the director of CAJ said they wouldn’t normally take concern about a particular case but in regards to this case they had as it was a Diplock Court. “Things have to be very safe in terms of the process.
Mr Gormally also said there was concerns regarding the covert use of the British Army.
“We are not sure about whether secret surveillance is part of the terms of deployment of the British Army in NI. It also appears that the listening device which was part of the trial, it was partly wiped by the army before it was handed to police.
“That is sufficient to engage human rights concerns so we have said that we will have monitors at the appeal. There are a number of concerns to warrant volunteers to observe,” said Mr Gormally.
“The first aspect is obviously it was a no jury trial we are always concerned about no jury trials,” he said. “Another aspect was involvement of a clandestine military surveillance unit and we are not sure if it was covered by the terms of deployment of the British Army here.”
Mr Gormally said there was “enough to engage our attention as a human rights organisation” although it would not pre-judge the outcome.
Before Christmas Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv also stated publicly that due to concerns he would be attending the appeal as an independent observer.
However, the widow of Constable Carroll has insisted that the original outcome of the trial was the rightful verdict.