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Two guilty in killing of Ulster constable

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - After crucial testimony from a mystery witness, two Irish Republican Army dissidents were convicted Friday of murdering a Northern Ireland policeman.

Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was shot through the back of the head as he sat in his patrol car in February 2009. The Continuity IRA splinter group claimed responsibility for the first killing of a Northern Ireland police officer since 1998, the year of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace accord.

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Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were both found guilty after a two-month trial based on a wide range of evidence including British Army surveillance, DNA and forensic clues, and key witness evidence.

Belfast High Court Justice Paul Girvan said prosecutors proved that both men were “intimately involved’’ in shooting Carroll. He postponed sentencing to a later date.

But IRA dissidents launched a violent protest Friday against the double convictions. Masked men hijacked and burned a van and two cars in Craigavon, the town southwest of Belfast where Carroll was killed and McConville lived. Police urged drivers to avoid the area.

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