Family of Lyra McKee welcome sentencing of man who stored weapon used in journalist's killing

The sister of Lyra McKee has welcomed the conviction of a man who stored the weapon used in the death of the 29-year-old journalist.

She, however, said the story of who was behind the trigger still had to be told.

Niall Sheerin, 29, from Tyrconnell Street in Derry admitted to possession of the pistol and live ammunition.

Ms McKee was killed during a riot in 2019 when a New IRA gunman opened fire on police lines. She had been there to observe the disturbance.

Nichola McKee Corner said: "It was a good result today for Lyra's murder investigation and now that the story of the gun is over the story of the gunman actually continues."

"We always wanted there not to be another death, with that gun of the streets that could actually save lives so that's a good result for the people of Creggan, Londonderry and Northern Ireland."

"That gun being off the streets has saved lives, it's a fabulous result."

"But days like this reminds us that she is not coming back and she'll never come back." added McKee Corner.

Mr Justice Fowler deemed Niall Sheerin to be a 'dangerous' offender and imposed an extended custodial sentence of seven years in prison followed by five years on licence.

The gun was fired by the New IRA during rioting in Creggan in 2019. The gun had also been used in four other paramilitary attacks.

Sheerin’s DNA was found on the pistol. It was discovered in a field in Derry in 2020 during searches by police and Army.

The gun had been concealed in a hide which looked like an animal warren. The court was told Sheerin hadn’t fired the gun and wasn’t a member of the New IRA.

At first he denied any knowledge of the weapon. However, during his trial he admitted to the charge of possession with intent to endanger life.

The judge described Sheerin as “an associate of a terrorist gang".

He said Sheerin: “Voluntarily assisted them in storing the weapon in a condition that it can be used again.”

Sheerin admitted possessing a .22 calibre Hammerli self-loading pistol, magazine and a quantity of .22 calibre cartridges with intent to enable another person to endanger life or cause serious damage to property on dates between September 22, 2018 and June 6, 2020.

Mt Justice Fowler said that it was accepted Sheerin didn't know the history of the gun - which included it's use by the New IRA in the murder of Ms McKee.

Ms McKee died after being struck by a bullet fired by a gunman during rioting in the Fanad Drive area of Creggan on April 18, 2019.

Members of her family sat in the public gallery in Court 12 of Belfast Crown Court, just yards from the dock where Sheerin sat.

Sheerin will also be subject to terrorist notification requirements under the Terrorism Act for the next 15 years.Police welcomed the sentencing.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: “Lyra McKee, at just 29 years old, died after being shot in Creggan, in Derry/Londonderry, on 18 April 2019. It’s over three years now since that tragic day, and the pain felt by Lyra’s loved ones is understandably as raw as ever.

“I want to thank members of the public for their support, and I’m keen to reassure the community that we remain committed to working with them and our partner agencies to stop the corrosive influence of terrorists.

"Our investigation into Lyra’s murder, as demonstrated by today’s sentencing, is very much active. And, with continued support, we will work tirelessly to bring those responsible before the courts.

“We are very grateful to the independent charity Crimestoppers, which is now offering an increased reward of up to £20,000 for information it receives that leads to the prosecution of those responsible.“To stay anonymous, contact Crimestoppers directly on Freephone 0800 555 111 or online at There is no caller line display, no 1471 facility and computer IP addresses are never traced.”

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