Man jailed for owning the gun used in murder of journalist Lyra McKee

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By Euronews
Lyra McKee was killed in April 2019, sending shockwaves across the UK and Ireland.
Lyra McKee was killed in April 2019, sending shockwaves across the UK and Ireland.   -   Copyright  JESS LOWE / JESS LOWE PHOTOGRAPHY / AFP

A man has been jailed in Northern Ireland for owning the gun that was used to kill journalist Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to possessing the weapon with intent between September 2018 and June 2020.

He was handed a seven-year prison sentence and a further five years' suspended sentence by Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

McKee was shot dead in April 2019 while observing riots in the western city of Derry, in a crime that sent shockwaves across the UK and Ireland.

The New IRA, a splinter group of the former Irish Republican Army, admitted to "tragically" shooting McKee but denied any intent to kill. Three men are awaiting trial for her murder.

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said that the 29-year-old man was linked to a "terrorist gang which poses a danger to society".

But the man was not convicted of murder because prosecutors could not prove the " specific history of the gun".

The court heard how the Hammerli X-Esse .22 pistol and ammunition were found wrapped in plastic bags and buried in a field in Derry in 2020.

Ballistics tests showed that the gun was used in the shooting of McKee and four other shootings in the city over the previous 21 months.

Additional sources • DPA, EFE