Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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The Craigavon 2 Deserve Justice - Now!!

The McConville Family call on people to sign a petition in support of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton. 




The Craigavon 2, Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wootton, are innocent Irishmen who have been wrongfully imprisoned for the past 8 years.

This petition calls upon Britain's Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) to thoroughly examine all evidence disclosed and undisclosed in the case. To speak with Witness M, his partner and re-examine his version of events and credibility.

If you already know the facts of this case the wife and family of Brendan McConville, who are running his campaign, would like you to show your support for the Craigavon 2 by signing and sharing this petition widely. We truly appreciate your time and support.

If you don't know the facts of the case, please read on. It could be your family this happens to next ...

On March 9th 2009 Constable Steven Carroll was fatally shot in Craigavon,  County Armagh, Northern Ireland . On the 30th of March 2012 Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton (The Craigavon 2) were convicted of the shooting and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

If the paragraph above covered the complete story of the case it would have been duly noted in the history files, annotated with varying interpretations depending on political allegiance, & the world would have moved on.

Instead, beneath those 44 words lies the story of one the worst miscarriages of justice seen in the UK or Ireland since the days of the Guildford 4 or the Birmingham 6.\

It is a case that has attracted international attention & has earned the support of human rights activists, politicians & legal experts alike.

It is a case laced with a flawed “star witness” (Witness M) who was & still is being financially rewarded for his testimony, with secret hearings, tampered / disappeared evidence and enough Anonymity & Public Interest Immunity Orders to make sure neither the press nor the public could be aware of what was happening at the trial (which was held in a jury-less court presided over by a single judge acting as a “nominal jury”).

This is a case where the judge has said that he can not say for sure what part either defendant had in the shooting but sentenced them to life in prison anyway.

Referring to the Craigavon 2, Gerry Conlon, of the “Guildford 4” wrote “"We can't have innocent people going to jail and 15 years down the line them being released, their lives ruined … I believe a miscarriage of justice took place here on the basis of all the evidence I have read." ”.

Michael Mansfield QC, a leading barrister who represented both the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 in their miscarriage of justice cases has said ““There is nothing more particular about it [the Craigavon 2 case] than any of the other miscarriages and the same features appear in all these things.”

Michael O'Brien, award winning author. human rights activist and himself the victim of a notorious miscarriage of justice which saw him wrongfully imprisoned for 12 years, has said “The case of The Craigavon 2 will not lie dormant in the grave, it will rise up and haunt them".

This last July the Dublin City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for the immediate release of both men. Writing about the motion,  Cieran Perry, who introduced it wrote, “As the motion says, this case isn’t about a political ideology, it’s about a miscarriage of justice and an assault on the human rights of both men.

Regardless of your view on the political situation in the 6 counties it’s important that as many people as possible highlight the case and support the men.”.

On November 13th the South Dublin Council also unanimously passed a motion supporting The Craigavon 2 & stating in part “This Council acknowledges that the case of the Craigavon 2 requires significant re-examination due to concerns about how the convictions were achieved.”

As examples of the strong show of support for the Craigavon 2 throughout the UK, members of the UCU (University & College Union) meeting in conference in London last weekend unanimously supported a motion backing the call for a re-examination of the case and JENGba (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association), the influential UK based grassroots organization fighting wrongful convictions, has been a strong, vocal and extremely helpful supporter.

Here are the basic facts of the case:

On March 9th 2009 Constable Steven Carroll was fatally shot in Craigavon,  County Armagh, Northern Ireland . On the 30th of March 2012 Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were convicted of the shooting and sentenced to life in prison.

At the trial no evidence of Brendan McConville or John-Paul Wootton’s direct involvement in the shooting was ever presented. It wasn't presented because it doesn't exist.

Instead the conviction was based on:

1.)  The testimony of a witness who testified that on the heavily raining night of the shooting he saw McConville dressed in a green army jacket in the neighborhood of the shooting around the time of the shooting.

2.)  DNA evidence from a jacket retrieved from Wootton's car after the shooting that an expert testified had McConville's DNA on it and traces of what possibly could be gunpowder.

3.) A GPS tracking device that had been placed in Wootton's car sometime prior to the shooting which showed the car leaving a housing estate adjacent to the one where the shooting occurred ten minutes after the shooting & passing near McConville's home on its way back to Wootton's. The prosecution used this information to surmise that McConville was dropped off by Wootton before he made his own way home.

The problems with the conviction are as follows:

1.) The prosecution's star witness, Witness M, gave the only testimony that placed either of the two men near the scene of the shooting. He testified that, on that very dark and rainy night, he saw McConville, from a distance of about 16 yards by an electricity box wearing a green knee length army coat with a German logo. The witness, however, was shown to be astigmatic & short shorted – conditions which would have made him unable to see what he said he saw.

In addition, his partner who was walking with him that night refused to corroborate his story.

Furthermore, he waited 11 months to come forward (by which time McConville's name had been widely spread by the press), was shown to have repeatedly lied under oath and had contacted the police on a number of occasions while drunk or drinking, including the night of his original call. Also large extracts of his witness statement to the police were redacted.
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All of this is further compromised by the fact that the witness receives a weekly income from the PSNI and also receives an allowance for childcare. He has had loans and overseas holidays facilitated for his children and has received other financial benefits.

2.) 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 McConville and Wootton. No matches were found. Also, according to the tracking device Wootton's car never went near the housing estate where the rifle was found.

3.) The prosecution claimed a jacket found in Wootton's car with McConville's DNA & traces of what might be gunpowder, were further proof of the men's involvement in the shooting. The jacket, however, was brown leather & waist length, not the  green knee length army jacked with a German logo the witness had claimed to see. In addition, the jacket was completely dry, not very wet as it would have been if McConville had been wearing it during the shooting. In addition, when police searched both men's homes they found no traces of the wet and/or muddy clothes they were specifically looking for.

4.) The only “evidence” tying John Paul Wootton to the killing is his car & the GPS tracking device that was placed on it sometime prior to the shooting. The tracking device showed Wootton's car leaving a housing estate a quarter of a kilometer from the estate where the shooting took place about 10 minutes after the shooting occurred. It proceeded at a normal pace along one of the two available routes leading from where he was to his home.  (Both routes pass close to McConville's house.)

According to the prosecution Wootton dropped off McConville and went home. However, at no time did the tracking device show the car's doors being opened anywhere near McConville's home. Even more worrying, data from the tracking device was mysteriously wiped while the device was in the hands of the army. No plausible explanation was ever given as to why this happened.

There is more. The fact that the men were denied the benefit of a trial by jury. Admitted deficiencies in witness testimony, state interference with new witnesses who were scheduled to testify at the appeal, etc.

As you can see from the facts of the case, no credible shred of evidence exists to connect either man with the shooting Every independent legal expert who has reviewed this case has agreed these men should never have been convicted.The flaws in the case are many and taken together can only result in a single conclusion:

This is a miscarriage of justice that needs to be corrected now!

Please sign this petition and ask the CCRC to make a full and complete re-examination of the case and then send it back to the Court of Appeals. Call on them to thoroughly examine all evidence disclosed and undisclosed in the case. Call on them to speak with Witness M, his partner and re-examine his version of events and credibility.

Fairness & decency demand no less.

This isn't just about The Craigavon 2, it's about all of us. If governments aren't held to account for what they do to others who will hold them to account when they turn on us?

Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wootton have spent eight years in the hell called Maghaberry Prison. It is no place for innocent men.

Please sign – sign now - and share this petition on all your social media sites.

Thank you for all your help & support.

JUSTICE FOR THE CRAIGAVON 2 --- NOW!!!


For more information:
Justice for The Craigavon 2 website: https://jftc2.com/
The C2 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MrsMcConville/

6 comments :

Ciarán Cunningham said...

I still remember young Newry nationalists snubbing petitions calling for the release of the Birmingham Six & Guilford 4 believing the state line that they were somehow guilty. Likewise, some day people will regret falling for the same line with the Craigavon 2. Just signed the petition with that in mind.
Ciarán Cunningham, MLAW.

Steve R said...

Why was a GPS tracking device placed on Wooton's car in the first place?

Ciarán Cunningham said...

Steve R, you could probably check your own car, just for posting on this site.
Why did the Brits break into an MLAs home to bug it when he was openly calling for an end to armed actions?

Steve R said...

Ciaran,

I doubt I'm of any interest to them!

Who's home was broken into?

Ciarán Cunningham said...

Raymond McCartney's house was broken into by the Brits, they left their homework book on his kitchen table, was carried in the press at the time.

Steve R said...

Ciaran,

If you think that 'homework book' was left there accidentally on his kitchen table in full view then I've some magic beans for sale!

Far more likely that it was a stunt to shore up his status within the RM. You said it yourself, he was openly calling for an end of armed actions. Not hard to work that one out.