SF councillor backs Craigavon 2 appeal

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A senior Sinn Féin politician has raised concerns about the conviction of a men jailed for killing PSNI man Stephen Carroll a decade ago.

In a recent letter to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, Upper Bann assembly member John O’Dowd said he shares concerns “raised as to the safety of this conviction”.

The commission is currently reviewing the case of Brendan McConville, who along with John Paul Wootton was jailed for the alleged Continuity IRA sniper attack.

Nearly 11,000 people have signed the petition to free the Craigavon 2.

Mr McConville is currently serving a 25-year sentence while Mr Wootton, who has lodged a separate application to the CCRC, was given an 18-year term.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast rejected a challenge by the Craigavon men in 2014, while the Supreme Court in London has refused to hear a further appeal.

In his letter, sent last month on behalf of Brendan McConville, Mr O’Dowd welcomed the commission’s decision to undertake a review.

“The public and media interest in the case have highlighted a number of areas of concern including the quality of eyewitness accounts, the standard and validity of recordings provided by the ‘Security Services’, and the fact that no specific role in the murder could be accorded to Mr McConville,” he wrote.

“Thus the outcome of Mr McConville’s trial and the conviction for murder has left many with the view that the conviction is unsafe.”

Mr O’Dowd also wrote of his hope that the commission could bring its “deliberations to a conclusion as soon as possible”.

Mr McConville’s solicitor Darragh Mackin welcomed the “intervention by Mr O’Dowd”.

“As the recent correspondence alludes to, there remain real and serious frailties on the evidence to which the conviction is based,” he said.

“As such it is imperative that the CCRC appreciate the wider public concern the conviction of Brendan McConville has caused.

“We now look forward to a decision in the near future regarding the ongoing review.”

A spokesman for the CCRC said the case is still under review.

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