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Judgment in murder conviction appeal due

Connla Young

JUDGEMENT is expected this morning in the case of two men who appealed their convictions for the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll.

Brendan McConville (42) is serving a 25-year minimum jail sentence for the gun attack in March 2009.

A second Craigavon man, John Paul Wootton (22) was also convicted of murder in 2012 and is serving a minimum of 14 years behind bars.

Both men have denied any involvement in the Continuity IRA sniper attack that claimed the life of Constable Carroll as he answered an emergency call at Lismore Avenue in Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville and Wootton both appealed their convictions before a panel of three High Court judges, including Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, last October.

The men's case has been the subject of a high-profile campaign backed by Gerry Conlon who was wrongly convicted of involvement in the 1974 Guilford pub bombing which killed five people.

Campaigning human rights priest Fr Raymond Murray has also raised concerns about the case in the past.

Among the concerns raised by solicitors for McConville is the reliability of the evidence of a man, known as Witness M, who was described at the original trial as a "Walter Mitty-type character who liked to tell tales."

Other concerns centre on the disappearance of surveillance information from a tracking device placed in Wootton's car by an undercover British army unit before Constable Carroll was shot.

During the original trial in 2012 Lord Justice Girvan said compelling evidence against McConville included gun residue on a jacket that the prosecution claimed he owned and which was found in Wootton's car.

He also said photographs recovered form a computer in Wootton's home showing him wearing a paramilitary uniform at a republican event were proof of "bad character."

* CONVICTED: Brendan McConville, bottom right, and John Paul Wootton, top right, have denied any involvement in the death of Constable Stephen Carroll in March 2009. Above, Wootton's mother Sharon Wootton with Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, centre, and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four

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