By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Two men charged with the murder of Belfast journalist Lyra McKee have been granted bail.
The 29-year-old was shot dead by dissident republicans in Londonderry in April 2019 as she observed rioting in the Creggan area of the city.
Gearoid Cavanagh, 33, of Elmwood Terrace, Derry, and Jordan Devine, 21, of Synge Court, Derry, were charged with her murder when they appeared at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court via video-link on Friday.
They were both also charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, riot, possession of petrol bombs, throwing petrol bombs and arson.
Cavanagh was further charged with robbery.
A prosecuting lawyer told the court the police case is that the two defendants were with the gunman who fired the shot on the night that Ms McKee was killed.
Defence lawyers said the evidence against their clients is weak.
Derry/Londonderry Magistrates Court
Regarding the case against Cavanagh, the prosecuting lawyer said: “At 11pm the gunman walks out with the gun exposed, and the prosecution case is the gunman was being escorted by Gearoid Cavanagh, who carries out a stewarding role as the gunman takes up position.”
Cavanagh’s defence lawyer said: “It is my view that the images upon which police have based their identification of Mr Cavanagh are absolutely beyond belief, (it is) impossible to identify Mr Cavanagh from those pictures.”
Regarding the case against Devine, the prosecuting lawyer said: “At the time of the shooting at 11pm, Jordan Devine is present. He encourages the gunman when the shots are fired by punching the air. He cheers, he throws a missile, he again raises his arm, and afterwards he assists in tidying up, appearing to lift items from the ground.”
Devine’s defence lawyer said: “In the old days this is the sort of thing that would have been laughed out of court. The reason that there has been such vast hesitancy over the past two-and-a-half years is no doubt because of the fact that the evidence is so poor.
“We say that, given the jurisprudence in relation to identification and description, this is not a case at all.”
The two defendants were granted bail by district judge Barney McElholm and will appear in court again on October 7.
A third man, Joe Campbell, 20, of Gosheden Gardens in Derry, was charged with riot, possession of petrol bombs and throwing petrol bombs on the night that Ms McKee was killed.
He was also granted bail and will appear in court again on October 7.
The extremist group that styles itself the New IRA has previously claimed it was responsible for the killing.