Husband jailed for Lu Na McKinney murder launches conviction appeal

Credit: Pacemaker
Madam Justice McBride, sitting today in Belfast Crown Court, imposed a minimum period of 20 years
imprisonment on Stephen McKinney for the murder of his wife Lu Na McKinney on 13 April 2017.
Stephen McKinney made a 999 call stating that his wife had fallen into the water at Devenish Island, Lough Erne.
Stephen McKinney was found guilty of murdering his wife, Lu Na, during a holiday in Fermanagh.

A man jailed for murdering his wife on a family boating trip is mounting a legal bid to have the conviction overturned, it has emerged.

Stephen McKinney, 45, is serving a minimum 20 years in prison for killing Lu Na McKinney during a holiday on Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh in April 2017.

But a new team of defence lawyers have identified seven potential grounds of appeal for an attempt to have the guilty verdict declared unsafe.

The body of Mrs McKinney, 35, was recovered from the water near a jetty at Devenish Island, where the couple were moored on a cruise with their two young children.

Her husband, originally from Fintona in Co Tyrone, has always denied the killing.

McKinney claimed she fell into the water while on deck to check mooring ropes, and that he tried to save her.

But last year a jury at Dungannon Crown Court found him guilty of his wife’s murder after accepting the prosecution case that it was no boating accident.

McKinney has now instructed a new legal team to apply for leave to contest the conviction.

Barristers Brian McCartney QC and Damien Halleron are preparing arguments aimed at securing a full hearing.

Seeking more time to prepare their case, Mr McCartney told the Court of Appeal at a hearing on Wednesday it will involve considering the merits of seven grounds of challenge.

“One involves adverse publicity concerning media reporting of a decision by the accused not to give evidence,” he disclosed.

The death of one of the original defence lawyers during the trial process was raised as another potential issue.

Prosecution counsel Richard Weir QC raised no objection to Mr McCartney being given more time.

“He has not overstated the complexity and length of this case,” Mr Weir acknowledged.

Granting the requested extension, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan stressed: “I will allow some further time, but mindful that we need to progress this."