The Disgrace of Diplock: Why we are helping Brendan McConville

In 2009, PC Stephen Carroll was shot dead on a housing estate in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. The following day, a group of men were arrested for the shooting. Brendan McConville, an ex-Sinn Fein councillor, was convicted of the murder along with his co-defendant John Paul Wootton, following a  non-jury trial.

Diplock trials were established in 1973. They allowed for certain ‘scheduled offences’ to be tried by a single Judge rather than a jury. Today, Diplock trials have purportedly been abolished. But non-jury trials still remain in Northern Ireland. When Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton stood trial, it was in front of a single judge rather than a jury.  Both men are serving a life sentence without ever being tried by their peers.

That is why we are helping evaluate the conviction of Brendan McConville. We believe that all citizens deserve a jury trial. There are serious issues with the evidence in this case. But we also want to help with case to defend a principle. Jurors are the best possible protection against miscarriages of justice.  Everyone who faces a serious criminal trial deserves a jury.

Sign the Craigavon 2’s petition here.

Read the Crown Court judgement in the trial here.

If you would like to know more about the case or about our work on ‘Diplock’ trials then please email us at

Luke GittosComment