14 YEARS IN JAIL FOR SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T DO
(Reading time main text: 2 mins.)
On 16th July 2022 the frame-up of the Craigavon Two was highlighted in public events in locations across all four provinces of Ireland. John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville were framed and convicted in 2012 of the killing of colonial police officer Stephen Carroll in 2009.
The agency that framed them is the colonial police force of the Six Counties statelet but then they were railroaded through the non-jury Diblock Courts. As a result the two men have spent 14 years in jail for something they did not do.
In Dublin city centre banners in Irish and in English calling for the freeing of the Craigavon Two were hung from the iconic curved pedestrian Ha’penny Bridge. Green and gold Starry Plough flags streamed in the breeze from the sea as leaflets were distributed to passers-by.
Hand-held Placards called for the men’s release and regular calls could be heard of “Justice for the Craigavon Two!” followed by “14 years in jail for something they didn’t do”. In addition there were calls to “Smash the Specials”1 and comments about “British justice”.
All the leaflets brought to the event were distributed and a number of conversations with interested people took place.
At one point four members of the State’s police force, the Gardaí, walked past the picketers and gathered at the far end of the bridge, watching them. However, the picketers were not intimidated and the police took no further action.
The events in respect of the Craigavon Two were organised by the Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland organisation and took place in Waterford, Oldcastle (Meath), Naas (Kildare), Mullingar (Westmeath), Kerry, Galway, Dublin, South Derry, Armagh and Arklow (Wicklow.)
A CROOKED CASE
To say that the case against the men was flimsy would be to give it too much credit. The killing weapon was recovered and the fingerprints on the weapon and magazine did not match either of the men’s. No eyewitness was found except one who claimed to have seen one of the men in the area.
The alleged eyewitness who identified one of the men, “Witness M” only came forward 11 months after the killing and long after the arrest of both men. Witness M’s inability to have identified anyone at night at the distance he claimed to have done was exposed in court.
That man’s father described him as “a Walter Mitty character” who was chronically untruthful and his own partner refused to corroborate the witness’ account of his movements on the night of the killing.
The ‘evidence’ against the second man of being in the area came from an MI5 agent who testified from behind a screen about a tracking device they claimed to have planted in the accused’s car which had unexplained gaps in its recording.
The agent declined to answer a number of questions under “public immunity” certificate related to “national security”.
The colonial police went further and detained Witness M’s father to intimidate him into not giving evidence about his son’s veracity (or lack of it) — and the witness was also paid a sum of money.
One can say that the no-jury Diplock Court was crucial in convicting the men of murder but even when they were eventually granted leave to appeal in 2014, their convictions were not overturned. The normal judicial system is bad but the no-jury courts are worse.
Another victim of being framed in the British ‘justice’ system, Gerry Conlon, 15 years in jail in the famous case of the “Guildford Four”, joined the campaign for the men and was proclaiming their innocence until a mere few days before his premature death in June 2014 (aged 60).
1A reference to the political no-jury courts of the colony and of the Irish State, the Diplock Courts and the Irish State’s Special Criminal Courts.
Craigavon Two campaign: https://www.facebook.com/mrsmcconville
Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/AIAI-For-National-Liberation-and-Socialist-Revolution-101829345633677
“Justice Craigavon Two” song by Pól Mac Adaim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzUdD80obMY