Widow’s heartache

THE widow of murdered police officer Stephen Carroll says a campaign started by one of the Guildford Four to free the republican dissidents jailed for her husband’s killing has plunged her into fresh “hell”.

Kate Carroll said she has be unable to sleep since she learned that Gerry Conlon, whose wrongful conviction following the Provisional IRA bombing in Guildford, England was quashed in 1989, had founded the Craigavon Two campaign to free Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton - the men who were found guilty of Constable Carroll’s murder.

Constable Carroll was responding to a 999 call when he was shot by republican dissidents in Craigavon in March, 2009.

“After all (that has happened) am I now going to be put through more hell? I couldn’t take it in when I heard. I was taken aback and I’m still trying to take it in. It’s hit me like a ton of bricks,” Mrs Carroll told the ‘Mail’.

“How can he (Mr Conlon) make a judgement when he wasn’t in court to hear the trial.”

Mr Conlon told a daily regional newspaper that he was fighting to free McConville and Wootton - who were convicted in May and sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum of 25 years and 14 years respectively - as he believed the convictions were ‘unsafe’.

He stressed that he was not a “republican in any shape or form” and did not advocate “anything to do with republican dissidents” or violence, but as a “human-rights activist... this is a really disturbing case”. However, Mrs Carroll said she did not believe Mr Conlon was best informed to make a comment on the murder trial.

“I was there (in court). I heard the evidence; the gun residue on the coat. I spoke to Mrs McConville (Brendan McConville’s mother) on the Stephen Nolan show and she said that her son wasn’t guilty. If she knows he’s not guilty then why doesn’t she tell the world who is?”

“I’m now looking at another Christmas in tatters. Last Christmas it was about the trial and my son (Shane), is still getting over the trial. I’m still coming to terms with the trial,” she said.

Kate added that she was now redoubling her efforts in preparing for the launch of The Steve Carroll Foundation, an organisation she is establishing to help young people in her husband’s memory, in January.

“I was working on email for the foundation’s launch when I was told (of the campaign). I will keep on working to keep Steve’s memory alive,” she said.

The aim of the foundation, she explained, is to steer young people away from terrorism and to break down barriers like sectarianism and bigotry. “We will also offer one young person per year a scholarship to university to continue their education,” she added.