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Husband suspected of drugging and murdering his wife of 14 years after she drowned in Lough Erne

Stephen McKinney, aged 48 of Castledown Square, pleaded not guilty earlier today [26/02/2020] at Dungannon Crown Court for the murder of his wife, Lu Na McKinney, aged 35, who was a Chinese national and had two children with Mr McKinney.

Events unfolded after Mr McKinney hired a Lough Erne cruiser to celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary.

Prosecuting counsel Richard Weir QC said that “Ms McKinney had been incapacitated after taking the sleeping drug Zopiclone, which was obtained online by her husband”.

Mr Weir stated that the victim’s body was recovered from Fermanagh’s Lower Lough Erne near Devenish Island within 40 minutes of Mr McKinney raising the alarm in the early hours of April 13th, 2017.

Mr McKinney had made two emergency 999 calls, claiming that his wife had “just ended up in the water”.

Mr Weir continued to explain that when the police arrived on the scene, Mr McKinney had supposedly taken no action to attempt to recover his wife, who was unable to swim, from the lough.

“Mr McKinney gave conflicting accounts to the police, authorities, family and friends as to how she came to be in the Lough”, said Mr Weir.

Police constable John Stone, a witness to this case, explained how the events of the evening took place saying that it was “a moonlight night, calm waters, no rain.”

The police officer continued saying “when the police launch, the Lady Grey, drew close to the moored hire cruiser, I could clearly see a black object in the water”.

The police approached the scene and saw Mr McKinney wrapped in a red blanket while on his mobile phone.

The police officer said he shouted at Mr McKinney twice to ask where Ms McKinney had entered the water, but he was unresponsive both times.

This black object was confirmed as the victim’s body, by Mr McKinney when he said to the police, “it’s her”.

The police officer said, “I had asked Mr McKinney to move back so I could clearly see what I took to be a body, but could not reach it by hand”.

A rescue mission with the RNLI was then carried out to retrieve Ms McKinney’s body, and the police officer said he “checked for vital signs, but found none” and then began CPR.

Ms McKinney was then rushed to the hospital on an ambulance to receive medical attention.

Mr McKinney accompanied his wife to the hospital after being insisted by police to do so, although he refused several times before agreeing.

Mr Weir claimed that Ms McKinney had talked about taking the children back to China along with the possibility of divorce just months before her death, which was apparently something Mr McKinney would not have wanted.  

Mr Weir alleged that “this was no tragic accident and will be sure Stephen McKinney killed his wife”.

The trial for this case continues.