John Paul Wootton is a twenty year old Irishman who was arrested on the 10th of March 2009 at the age of seventeen by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the British paramilitary police force in the North of Ireland. He was interrogated for two weeks by PSNI officers in the most appalling of circumstances following the killing of a fellow PSNI member, Steven Carroll, on the 9th of March 2009 by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA). Despite his youth, concerns surrounding his arrest and three-year detention without trial and his nationality as a citizen of Ireland, John Paul was tried under the infamous no-jury Diplock court system which the British state has used since 1973 as part of its counter-insurgency struggle in the North of Ireland.
“John Paul Wootton – Letter To All:
My name is John Paul Wootton and I am now twenty years of age and I have been imprisoned in Maghaberry Prison for the last three years, that is, from when I was 17 years of age.
On the 10th of March 2009, while still a teenager, I was arrested and interrogated for thirteen days in relation to the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2009. From the outset of this period of interrogation I made it clear that I neither knew nor had any part in this incident and indeed the duration of my interrogation was only ended when my legal representative took out a legal injunction.
On the 30th of March 2012, after a trial before a Diplock Court [one of the British counter-insurgency non-jury courts imposed on the North of Ireland], I was convicted and sentenced to a life-sentence for the killing of Constable Carroll on the basis of a tracking device that had been fitted to my car at some point and which allegedly placed me at the scene of the shooting. However, the device in question, which had been placed there by members of MI5 [the British Security Service], went missing for a period of time and when it was finally recovered portions of the data allegedly recorded on the device were missing! These ‘gaps’ were supposedly filled by an MI5 operative who gave his evidence at the trial anonymously from behind a screen and his explanation for the data going missing was that, ‘he had left it on his desk and someone had moved and then replaced it without his knowledge’!
Additional to the missing data, the examination of my car, during the period of the missing data, also produced a brown coat that had particles of gun powder residue on it. These particles did not match the rifle or ammunition recovered by the PSNI that was claimed by the prosecution to have been the weapon that fired the fatal shot which killed Constable Carroll. This coat, which was a central piece of evidence in the case, not only did not belong to me but it had no physical connection to me, that is, no traces of my DNA, fibres or fingerprints were found on the coat.
In short, there was no physical evidence presented to the trial that linked me to this shooting rather a process of speculation and hypothesis that turned the legal principle of innocence until proven guilty on its head was applied.
During the trial my legal team attempted to tease out the anomalies of this case to demonstrate the complete lack of evidence against me, however, at each attempt they were met with the barrier of ‘Public Interest Immunity Orders’ being sought and granted to the prosecution [a controversial British government mechanism to prevent “sensitive information” being examined in court cases]. As a result of this crucial lines of inquiry about the movements of my car and the particles on the coat were denied to my defence.
As a consequence of all of the above I have instructed my legal team to appeal the conviction against me on the grounds that I did not receive a fair trial for the following reasons:
- I was refused the right to a trial by jury and instead I was tried by a single judge in a Diplock Court [a British non-jury counter-insurgency court].
- This single judge in the absence of any physical evidence against me resorted to negative inference and opinion.
- Evidence which may have assisted my defence or undermined the case against me was kept hidden from my legal team through the use of Public Interest Immunity Orders [the system of quasi-legal British government gagging orders].
- Several witnesses were granted anonymity thereby preventing the defence from properly cross-examining them.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this short description of what has happened to me and I would ask you to do all that you can to highlight this miscarriage of justice in the hope that I will get the chance of a fair trial at my appeal.
Further information on the legal detail of this case and the summary of the original trial are also contained on this web site. Please feel free to use them to demonstrate the scale of the injustice involved or to contact my legal representatives with any enquiries.
John Paul Wootton.”
Whatever one’s views on the tragic death of PSNI member Stephen Carroll and the continued campaign of armed resistance to the British Occupation in the North of Ireland, there can be no doubt that the arrest, prolonged interrogation, trial and conviction of a young Irishman, a teenage boy when first detained, in the most dubious and controversial of circumstances is not the answer.
- Irish Political Prisoners And The Revolutionary Dynamic (ansionnachfionn.com)
- Its The Process, Stupid (ansionnachfionn.com)