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Man jailed for murdering his wife on Lough Erne cruise makes legal bid for freedom

He claimed she fell into the water while on deck to check mooring ropes, and that he tried to save her.

Alan ErwinBelfast Telegraph

A man jailed for murdering his wife on a family boating trip has cleared the first stage in a legal bid to have the conviction overturned.

Stephen McKinney, 46, was granted leave to appeal his conviction for killing Lu Na McKinney during a holiday on Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh in April 2017.

Northern Ireland’s Lady Chief Justice, Dame Siobhan Keegan, listed the challenge for full hearing in June.

McKinney is currently serving a minimum 20 years in prison for murder.

The body of his 35-year-old wife was recovered from the water near a jetty at Devenish Island, where the couple were moored on a cruise with their two young children.

Lu Na McKinney

McKinney, originally from Fintona in Co Tyrone, has always denied the killing.

He claimed she fell into the water while on deck to check mooring ropes, and that he tried to save her.

But in 2021 a jury at Dungannon Crown Court found him guilty of her murder after accepting the prosecution case that it was no boating accident.

The defendant instructed a new legal team in an attempt to have that verdict declared unsafe.

McKinney has now instructed a new legal team to apply for leave to contest the conviction.

Man to serve at least 20 years for ‘heinous’ murder of wife Lu Na McKinney

Barristers Brian McCartney KC and Damien Halleron advanced a series of grounds aimed at securing a full hearing.

At the Court of Appeal today it emerged that leave to contest the jury finding has been obtained, based on a preliminary judicial assessment of the points raised.

In a separate move, McKinney is also appealing the 20-year sentence imposed on him.

With some trial transcripts still being sought as part of the legal challenge, Dame Siobhan issued a provisional timetable for hearing the appeal.

She confirmed: “I will list it for two days in June.”

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