Lyra McKee murder trial opens in Belfast

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The 29 year old died whilst observing rioting in Creggan

By David Young and Katie Dickinson (PA)

The trial of three men accused of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee has opened in Belfast.

Ms McKee, 29, died after being struck by a bullet as she stood close to police vehicles while observing rioting in the Creggan area of Londonderry on April 18 2019.

The New IRA claimed responsibility for the author’s murder.

Peter Cavanagh, 35, of Mary Street, Derry; Jordan Gareth Devine, 23, of Bishop Street, Derry; and Paul McIntyre, 56, of Kells Walk, Derry, are charged with her murder.

The three also face a number of other charges, including riotous assembly, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent, as well as possession of, and throwing of, petrol bombs.

McIntyre is additionally charged with membership of a proscribed organisation.

David McDowell KC, opening the case for the prosecution, said the shooting happened at the “culmination of orchestrated disorder” in the area.

He said the prosecution would contend that the three men accused of murder had accompanied a lone gunman on the night.

The barrister said the gunman had fired four shots in the direction of police Land Rovers.

The non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court heard how TV presenter Reggie Yates and an MTV production crew were filming a documentary in Derry in the period leading up to the murder.

The film focused on Saoradh – a group the Police Service of Northern Ireland has described as the political wing of the New IRA.

Yates and the crew had left the riot scene shortly before the shots were fired on the night Ms McKee was killed, the court heard.

Footage captured by the MTV crew on the day of the murder was shown to Judge Patricia Smyth as the trial opened.

The footage included clips of Yates being introduced to a number of individuals inside Saoradh’s offices in Derry. Mr McDowell said the group inside the building included Paul McIntyre and Jordan Devine.

He drew the judge’s attention to the size and build of the men and the clothes they were wearing when they met Yates.

Seven other men are on trial on a number of charges, including rioting and throwing petrol bombs.

They are: Joseph Patrick Barr, 36, of Sandringham Drive, Derry; Jude Forest Coffey, 26, of Gartan Square, Derry; William Patrick Elliott, 57, of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry; Joseph Anthony Campbell, 23, of Gosheden Cottages, Derry; Patrick Anthony Gallagher, 32, of John Field Place, Derry; Christopher Joseph Gillen, 43, of Balbane Pass, Derry; and Kieran George McCool, 55, of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry.

Ms McKee’s partner Sara Canning and her sister Nichola Corner McKee were among those attending the opening of the trial at Belfast’s Laganside Courts.

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