boating horror  | 

County Tyrone man found guilty of murdering wife on holiday break in Fermanagh

It took a jury less than two hours to convict McKinney
By Michael Donnelly

A Co Tyrone man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife as their children slept on the first night of a family boating holiday on Fermanagh's Lower Lough Erne over four years ago.

A jury unanimously convicted Stephen McKinney of killing his wife Lu Na in April 2017.

As the verdict was announced the 44-year-old father of two swayed forward slightly on his feet, but showed no other emotion, before taking a sip of water from a bottle when then jailed.

Madam Justice McBride told the scheming McKinney that he had been "convicted of murder and the only sentence I can impose is one of life imprisonment".

McKinney will have to wait before the court later rules on how long he must serve before being considered for release from the life term by the Parole Commissioners.

The Dungannon Crown Court jury of eight men and four women took just over an hour and a half to reach their unanimous verdict at the end of his 12 week trial into what occurred at the Devenish Island west jetty before his 40-minute 999 call for help in the early hours of April 13 2017.

By their verdict the jury accepted the prosecution had 'proved beyond reasonable doubt' their circumstantial case accusing McKinney of being a con artist and a liar and a controlling man who had tired of his 35-year-old wife yet feared she might divorce him.

Lu Na McKinney

Lu Na McKinney

They also accepted the contention of prosecution QC Richard Weir that McKinney caused Lu Na to 'enter the water of the Lower Lough', that he "killed her" and her death "was no tragic boating accident".

In turn the jury rejected McKinney's claims his wife - who had taken at least one sleeping tablet - simply disappeared off the end of the hire-cruiser into "blackness" after going to check the mooring ropes and that he did everything to save her.

They also did not accept defence QC Martin O'Rourke's contention McKinney was truthful throughout and his 999 calls provided a "ringside seat" into what happened, backed up by other witnesses and his own police interviews.

This is the second time that McKinney, originally from Strabane, and who lived with his wife and children in Convoy, Donegal, but bailed to live in Castletown Square, Fintona, has been on trial.

Last year his original trial for the murder of his wife between April 11 and 14 2017, had to be adjourned because of the start of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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