Killers’ lawyer says he feared arrest

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A solicitor for one of the men convicted of Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder has accused the PSNI of ‘intimidation’ of defence lawyers.

Darragh Mackin told a public meeting organised by supporters of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton who were convicted of Constable Carroll’s murder that he was ‘terrified’ he would be arrested for representing his client.

McConville from Lurgan, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the murder of Constable Carroll while Wootton (21) from Craigavon, was told he would have to serve at least 14 years following the trial in 2011.

Both men have protested their innocence.

Campaigners and the men’s legal teams have raised questions about eyewitness and forensic evidence.

Last Friday Mr Mackin claimed the PSNI had attempted to ‘undermine’ an appeal hearing that was due to be held in April.

He confirmed that his office had contacted the UN special rapporteur in connection with the case.

Controversy erupted on the day the appeal was due to take place after a defence barrister claimed police had attempted to ‘sabotage’ the hearing.

A new defence witness was arrested and questioned by police before being released without charge days before the appeal was due to begin.

McConville’s legal team believe they and the new witness had been under security force surveillance in the lead-up to the appeal hearing which will now be held in October.

The solicitor says he and a colleague Peter Corrigan feared that they too would be arrested.

“I will never forget the day when we went down to Brendan McConville’s appeal obviously with members of the family and it’s an absolutely terrifying fact to think there’s a chance - and Peter would agree with me on this - that me or him or both of us will be arrested at that point in time,” he said.

“This has gone past the issued of (the) appeal,” said Mr Mackin.

“This has become intimidation in my view and I think a number of people in this room will agree with me, it’s now intimidation.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Since this matter is currently before the courts, we are unable to comment.”

Sinn Fein policing board member Pat Sheehan told those at the discussion that the case “looks like a clear miscarriage of justice”.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “As a member of the board, Mr Sheehan will have opportunities to raise issues with senior officers in both open and private sessions.”