ROBUST calls to review prison sentencing in the wake of the 14-year minimum term handed down to one of the killers of police Constable Stephen Carroll, have been backed by Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson.
Last month, John Paul Wootton, 21, was told he will spend 14 years behind bars for his part in the fatal shooting of the PSNI officer in Craigavon three years ago.
Constable Carroll’s widow, Kate, said the sentence was “disgusting” and feared the lesser sentence handed to Wootton because of his age would not deter others from terrorism.
The outcry prompted director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeals on the grounds of undue leniency.
The development comes this week as Mr Anderson gave his backing to an assembly motion, brought forward by the DUP, calling for a sentencing review in relation to those convicted of murdering police officers.
Said the MLA, “This motion has been brought because of the deep feelings of outrage felt right across the community at the 14-year sentence handed down to one of those convicted of killing Constable Stephen Carroll.
“In England, you get the full term. It does seem absurd that sentences for the murder of police officers are not as tough here as they are in England, where the minimum term is 30 years.”
He continued, “Those who murder get off far too lightly. When we come to the murder of police officers, the crime somehow seems to be even worse. Police officers are the custodians of the rule of law, they put themselves on the front line against criminals to protect the whole community.
“That is why the murder of a police officer is greeted with such anger. Such a murder is a direct challenge to the rule of law.”
“Thankfully, the murder of police officers is no longer a frequent or regular occurrence in Northern Ireland. However, two PSNI officers — Constables Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr — have been murdered by dissident republican groups. They were killed because they dared to want to serve the community.
“The community must unite as never before to demand tougher sentences for those who go out and murder police officers. Dissident republican terrorists are intent on deterring young people, mainly from the Roman Catholic community, from joining the PSNI because of fear of assassination. It is, therefore, vital that we do all we can to ensure that they do not succeed with this aim.”