By Nicole McBride
A Co Tyrone man is facing a murder charge following his wife’s drowning death on an
Stephen McKinney, a 43-year-old man from Strabane has pleaded not guilty to the alleged
murder of his wife, Lu Na. McKinney lived with his wife and 2 children in Flaxfield, Co
Donegal and has since moved to Castletown square in Tyrone.
He appeared at Dungannon Crown Court on 26th February [26/2/2020] where the
prosecution laid out their evidence against McKinney’s plea to the jury. The jury
consisted of 6 men and 4 women and judge Ms Justice McBride presided.
McKinney and his wife, Lu Na, who was a Chinese national, were celebrating their 14th
wedding anniversary on a cruiser in the secluded area of Lough Erne. Forty minutes after
raising the alarm her body was recovered from the water not far from the cruiser.
In the early hours of the morning on 13th April 2020, the police arrived at the scene after
receiving two 999 calls from McKinney.
Prosecution counsel Richard Weir QC said: “McKinney did nothing to recover his wife, a
non-swimmer from the Lough during the 4 minutes it took them to dock”
It was found that Lu Na had been incapacitated after taking the sleeping drug Zopiclone. An
online search determined that it was Mr McKinney who obtained the drug that caused her to
enter the water.
Constable John Stone who was on the scene at the time said: “When the police launch drew
close to the moored cruiser, I could clearly see a black object in the water”.
He reported that McKinney was standing on the boat, wrapped in a red blanket and talking
erratically to himself.
A police officer said, “The bow of the police cruiser was too high to effect a rescue mission. I
was able to get on the jetty and jump down to McKinney’s cruiser.”
Lu Na was then extracted from the water by police and crewmen from the RNLI.
They “checked for vital signs but found none and then began CPR”.
After being rushed to hospital, the officer “told Mr McKinney of his wife’s transfer and
suggested he go with her which he refused several times.”
Defence attorney, Mr O’Rourke cross examined the police officer asking, if he was sure that
the object was indeed a body.
He confirmed that “he wasn’t sure until retrieving the body, however Ms McKinney was
floating in an upright position in the water”.
It has been discovered that months before this event, Lu Na had requested a divorce and a
desire to take the children back to China. Something that Mr McKinney was averse to.
Weir stated: “Mr McKinney was a controlling man, tired of his wife and not prepared
to accept her divorcing him and all the consequences that would entail”.
This case against McKinney is circumstantial however there is enough sufficient evidence
when taken together to support the case.
The trial is to be continued at a later date where the defence will be put forward.