Lu Na McKinney: husband on trial for her death during boating holiday

Stephen McKinney, wrapped in a red blanket and standing just metres away from where his wife floated dead in the water, failed to respond to police officers twice when they asked him where his wife was.

He has since gone on trial accused of murdering her during their boating holiday in County Fermanagh [26 February 2020].

Lu Na McKinney, 35, died after entering the water near Devenish Island on Lough Erne in the early hours of April 13th, 2017.

Her husband, Mr McKinney, 43, who lives in Castletown Square in Fintona, County Tyrone, has denied the charge, claiming that his wife drowned in a tragic accident instead.

His defence will be heard later in the trial.

Events began to unfold when the couple, who lived in Convoy in County Donegal, hired a cruiser with their two children to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

McKinney told police that his wife had fallen into the water after going to secure the mooring ropes on the cruiser.

Prosecution counsel Richard Weir QC opened the case by telling the jury of five women and seven men at Dungannon Crown Court that her untimely death was “no tragic accident” and that McKinney had caused her to enter the water.

He claimed that she had been incapacitated before hitting the water after ingesting a number of sleeping tablets that her husband had obtained from the internet.

These tablets were detected in her system after the incident during a post-mortem examination.

The prosecution lawyer claimed that McKinney had given conflicting accounts of how his wife had come to be in the lough to authorities, relatives, and friends.

He added: “Mr. McKinney was a controlling man who was tired of his wife and not prepared to accept her divorcing him and all the consequences that would entail for him.”

He then told the jury and judge Justice McBride that although the case was a circumstantial one, they would “be sure that Stephen McKinney killed his wife” after hearing the sufficient strands of evidence to come.

Police constable John Stone informed the crown court that when he approached the moored hire cruiser in the police launch, he asked McKinney, who was standing on the deck wrapped in a red blanket, where she had entered the water but received no response.

It had been a still night, Stone said, with “calm waters” and “no rain”.

Upon shining a torch into the water around the boat he spotted a black object close to its stern which turned out to be Lu Na.

The constable recalled that McKinney in that moment had said: “She’s there.”

He described the accused as being “very quiet – it certainly wasn’t excitable”.

He told the jury that she was too far to reach by hand so he used a boat hook from the police boat to access her.

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew helped him retrieve Lu Na, who displayed no signs of life, from the water onto the jetty.

The officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her before transferring her by lifeboat to an ambulance waiting on the land.

McKinney allegedly went with his wife to the hospital after some initial hesitation.

The trial continues.