Co. Tyrone man Stephen McKinney goes on trial accused of wife’s murder in boating incident at Lough Erne

By Rebecca McGirr

A court has heard that a Co. Tyrone man, accused of killing his wife in a boating incident at Lough Erne, was a “controlling man” and “unwilling to accept the possibility of her divorcing him.”

Stephen McKinney, 44, pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife Lu Na McKinney near Devenish Island, Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh in the early hours of the morning of 13 April 2017.

McKinney and his wife had hired a cruiser to celebrate their upcoming 14th wedding anniversary when two emergency 999 calls were made by him claiming his wife had “just ended up in the water.”

Within 40 minutes of McKinney raising the alarm Lu Na McKinney’s body was recovered from the water.

Prosecuting QC Richard Weir opened the case at Dungannon Crown Court accusing the father of two of the murder stating “this was no tragic accident, and you will be sure Stephen McKinney killed his wife.”

Originally from Strabane, McKinney had previously lived with his wife, a Chinese national, and two children in Flaxfield, Convoy, Co Donegal.

Mr Weir said that Lu Na McKinney had been “incapacitated,” after she took the sleeping drug Zopiclone, which was obtained online by her husband “causing her to enter the water.”

Mr Weir also revealed that “months before her death, Mrs McKinney had talked of divorce, and of taking the children back to China, something he would not have wanted.”

The weather that night was described as good, there was a full moon, no rain and very little wind as there was calm waters.

The prosecutor told the jury of seven men and five women that when police arrived on the scene during the four minutes it took them to dock, McKinney “did nothing to recover his wife, a non-swimmer, from the lough.”

He also “gave conflicting accounts to police, authorities, family and friends as to how she came to be in the lough, after she had allegedly went to secure the mooring ropes on the cruiser.”

Police Constable John Stone said that once he arrived on the scene he shouted at McKinney twice asking where his wife had gone in but got “no reply.”

Lu Na McKinney’s body was pulled from the lough by a police officer using a boat hook.

She was transferred to an ambulance and taken to hospital.

Constable Stone suggested to McKinney that he go to the hospital with her and said that “he refused several times, before agreeing.”

The trial continues.