Allister: Carroll murder “no more foul and wicked” than RUC killings
TUV leader Jim Allister has said that Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder “was no more foul and wicked than the murder of 300 members of the RUC down through the years.”
Constable Carroll, from Banbridge, was murdered in 2009 by Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. The latter was sentenced to 14 years but that is set to be reviewed.
Speaking in Stormont about sentencing for the murder of police officers he described the Carroll murder as “foul and wicked in every sense.”
In his speech he said,”Many people have said that the present sentencing regime should be as it is in GB. I have a lot of sympathy and empathy with that.
“Let us be clear: if Constable Carroll had been murdered in England or Wales, some people seem to think that under the 2003 legislation, the sentence would have been 30 years, but, in fact, it would probably have been a whole life sentence.
“Under schedule 1 to the 2003 Act, it is provided that, where the motivation is political, a whole life sentence is available for such a person. Where it is not political, and the murder is that of the police officer, the sentence available is 30 years.
“However, the 2003 Act makes a distinction in respect of young people. Indeed, historically, for as long as one can go through many of the statutes in this regard, that distinction has been made. Those who say that we should have had the English system should reflect on the fact that under the 2003 English Act, the starting point for someone who is under 18 when they murder is in fact 12 years.
“It is a surprise to me that we have had this debate given that the real focus of dissatisfaction flows from the sentence of one of the persons who was under 18. We have had this debate, and no one has addressed that issue. Is it right or wrong that the sentence for a young person should be less than that for an adult? This House can talk about all these issues, but unless it addresses that issue, it is not addressing the crux of the matter whatsoever. Therefore, that is something that needs to be carefully addressed.
“In this case, I feel that the judge was acting within the parameters that he had to act within. He took the starting point, added a little to it and gave the sentence that he gave. However, our system allows a review, and the review has been activated.
“The opportunity now exists for the Court of Appeal to examine what has been happening in England, to draw as it did on the McCandless case and the English experience at that time and to say what the experience is now, in light of what should now be the approach to this issue, and it can review the sentences in that regard. It has that facility so we do not need a sentence advisory council. That would be an unnecessary encumbrance on the system. It is not necessary.
“A scope of sentences is available that can be made adequate, and if it comes to it, let us put it in legislation, but let us deal with the issue, rather than run away with it, which some have.”
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