Family's agony  | 

Lyra McKee's sister says 'we're no closer to Justice' after man admits gun offence

"It means nothing to me, he is not the gun man, he is not my beautiful sister's killer."
Paula Mackin

Niall Sheerin's guilty plea to possessing the gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee means nothing to her heartbroken sister Nicola McKee-Corner.

As she stands by the shrine to her slain sister in her Belfast home she fights back the tears that have been coming every day since her beautiful, fun-loving Lyra was murdered by the New IRA in Derry in 2019.

Niall Sheerin was charged with possessing a Hammerli pistol with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, or to enable another person to endanger life or cause damage to property.

The 29-year-old admits to holding the gun used to murder journaist Lyra but Nicola says this admission brings her no closer to justice.

"It means nothing to me, he is not the gun man, he is not my beautiful sister's killer. This development brings me no closer. When we heard the gun had been found we thought we found the gunman but that's not the case. The only thing good of this is there is a gun that has been taken off the streets," Nicola McKee-Corner told the Sunday World.

"There are so many questions that I don't have the answers to. Who gave him the gun or who did he give it to? No one knows. I don't know how to feel, I'm lost,".

Sheerin admitted what his barrister called the "second limb" of the charge.

"What does that even mean? No one knows at what point he had the gun or who else, like Lyra's killer, had it. I would ask people to be human, to come forward and tell the truth about my Lyra's murder. It would be so greatly appreciated. Please end out nightmare.

"Our Lyra would have come forward if she had any information of any crime. She was the type of person who would have been devastated if she caused you any offence. She was all about helping people.

"I just wish people would come forward and help her, help us, get justice. She spoke out and wrote about helping people get truth, to help others get justice, she deserves the same,".

Nicola has spoken to the media in relation to the brutal and senseless death of her sister but last night she told the Sunday World details of her heart break never revealed before.

"I have never said this before but when I got the call that Lyra had been injured at a riot my first thing I said to my husband is 'I'm going to kill her'. My thought was how am I going to tell my mummy Lyra was at a riot, she had never been at one before in her life!"

"At the start I thought she had been hit on the head with a bottle or a brick. When I spoke to her partner she said there there was an awful lot of blood, it was serious. I was about to head to Derry in the car but I phoned the police. I said to him I know my sister is injured but is she still alive ? He said 'I'm so sorry, she's passed away.' My world collapsed.

"Before that I rang Lyra and thought I was speaking to her on the phone, it was silent. After they told me she was dead I said to my husband John, how do I tell my mummy her baby is gone, murdered.

"I hope no one else experiences this, there is no pain like this. I lost my mummy after Lyra but it's a different type of pain, my mummy was ill, Lyra was taken from me. My sister was taken from me in the most brutal circumstances."

Nicola painfully recalls the hours after Lyra's murder. She says she wishes she died that day too.

"We couldn't touch her, because of forensics. I asked to hold her hand and I was told no. I looked at her lying there and I just wanted to climb up beside her and die. I told her 'mummy is here so you better wake up'.

"My sister said are you coming and I said no, I'm just going to wait until she wakes up. She never did, God love her. Lyra was talking to me in my head, she told me to speak for her and I will until I take my last breath. We need the person responsible to be caught, to ease our pain.

"She has told me to be strong, she would want us to be, she told me to speak for her over and over again and I will," Nicola said.

Sheerin, of Tyrconnell Street, Derry, has also been charged with possessing the firearm, magazine and a quantity of .22 calibre cartridges, between 12 September 2018 and 5 June 2020.

He was also charged with possessing the same items in suspicious circumstances, and possessing a handgun without a certificate.

Appearing at Belfast Crown Court barrister Joe Brolly told Judge Stephen Fowler QC: "This case has been resolved."

Mr Brolly said Sheerin was admitting the "second limb" of the charge - namely having the gun and ammunition to enable another person to endanger life or cause serious damage.

Sheerin was then re-arraigned on the firearms offence.

When asked how he pleaded, Sheerin replied "not guilty, but guilty to second limb possession with intent".


Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices