Two refused bail on Derry rioting charges

Christopher Gillen and Paul McIntyre refused to recognise the court when they appeared before a judge in Derry. Credit: PA

Two men charged with rioting offences in Londonderry the night journalist Lyra McKee was shot and killed have been refused bail.

The men, who were arrested on Thursday, refused to stand and recognise the court when called before District Judge Barney McElholm on Saturday.

Paul McIntyre, 51 and with an address in Ballymagowan Park in the Creggan area of Derry, has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences, and arson of a hijacked vehicle.

Christopher Gillen, 38 and from Balbane Pass in the city, has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences, and the arson and hijacking of a tipper truck.

The prosecution alleges that both men are connected to the paramilitary group the New IRA, who orchestrated a night of rioting on 18 April in the Creggan.

The New IRA has since admitted killing Ms McKee in a letter released to media.

Journalist Lyra McKee, 28 and originally from north Belfast, died in a shooting in Derry. Credit: Family photo

A PSNI detective told the court that footage seized from an MTV documentary crew provided police with the evidence they allege links both men to the charges.

The crew, along with presenter Reggie Yates, were filming in the offices of dissident republican group Saoradh on the afternoon of 18 April and later during the unrest in the Creggan.

According to the PSNI, MTV footage from the Saoradh offices - located in Junior McDaid House - shows both the accused clearly and speaking in the company of other Saoradh members.

Police also claim footage taken from CCTV and mobile phones, later supplied to officers by witnesses, shows two masked men in identical clothing and footwear to the defendants exiting the hijacked tipper truck and later carrying a crate of petrol bombs along Fanad Drive, and later throwing them at police.

The detective further added that he had concerns both men may attempt to interfere with or intimidate witnesses, or attempt to leave the country, if they received bail.

In the weeks following Ms McKee’s murder, graffiti was sprayed in Creggan warning the community against helping police with their enquiries.

The message “Informers will be executed” was painted along the wall of a local community centre, and posters of rats were erected on local speed signs.

Warnings from the so-called 'New IRA' have appeared in Derry. Credit: PA

Judge McElholm told the court that he also had concerns about witnesses being prevented from coming forward.

“We’re all aware of the disgraceful graffiti in Creggan that warned off anyone talking to police - whoever did that did these two men a great disservice,” he said.

“I’d be inclined to agree with Father Joe Gormley, in what happens when you get people who are blinded by ideology.

“All nationalism corrupts into fascism eventually, whether it’s Irish nationalism or British or Polish nationalism. We’ve all seen where it ends up.”

The judge added: “I have to bear in mind these gentlemen, there’s no evidence either of them belong to any paramilitary organisation. but they are a part of an organisation with a defined ideology.”

The murder of Ms McKee has sparked a major police investigation, amid huge public outrage.

The 29-year-old was shot in the head during the violent unrest and rushed to hospital by police, but later died.

Police say more than 140 people have come forward with mobile phone or social media footage and a £10,000 reward has been offered by the charity Crimestoppers for information that leads to a conviction over the murder.