Lyra McKee: Niall Sheerin jailed for having gun used to kill journaliston September 14, 2022 at 11:43 am

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Niall Sheerin was an associate of a “serious terrorist gang”, says the judge at a court in Belfast.

Lyra McKeeImage source, Jess Lowe

A man has been jailed for seven years for possessing the gun that police believe was used to kill journalist Lyra McKee.

Niall Sheerin, 29, from Tyrconnell Street in Londonderry, admitted possessing the pistol between 11 September 2018 and 6 June 2020.

He will spend seven years in prison followed by five years on licence.

Ms McKee, who was 29, was observing rioting in the Creggan estate in Derry when she was shot on 18 April 2019.

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said he believed Sheerin was an associate of a “serious terrorist gang who posed a danger to the public”.

He told the court that he was not sentencing Sheerin in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee.

He said that was because the “prosecution cannot establish to the requisite standard” that Sheerin was aware of the specific history of the weapon.

Speaking outside the court, Ms McKee’s sister Nichola McKee-Corner said: “Now the story of the gun has come to an end, but the story of the gunman continues”.

She said she would like the gunman to “take up the courage to come forward himself and accept responsibility for what he did” but conceded that is “realistically probably not going to happen at this stage”.

Lyra's sister Nichola speaking outside Laganside courts.

Appeal for information

“We would again appeal to anyone who has information on the identity of the gunman to come forward and ensure there is justice for Lyra,” Ms McKee-Corner said.

“Justice isn’t something that stands alone with the police service, justice is the whole business of the community.”

Acknowledging the sentence passed to Niall Sheerin, the police said their investigation into Ms McKee’s death remains “very much active”.

“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,” Det Sup Eamonn Corrigan said.

“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 said “we will work tirelessly to bring those responsible before the courts”.

The New IRA has admitted carrying out the murder of Lyra McKee.

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