Stephen McKinney: court told he made no effort to save his wife

The trial of a man accused of murdering his wife during a family boating holiday on Fermanagh’s Lower Lough Erne has heard that when police arrived, the defendant was seen to be on the phone and making no attempt to save his wife, a non-swimmer, from the water.

Lu Na McKinney (35) was recovered from Fermanagh’s Lower Lough Erne near Devenish Island within 40 minutes of her husband raising the alarm in the early hours of April 13th, 2017.

Her husband, Stephen McKinney (43) originally from Strabane, but now residing in Castletown Square, Fin- tona, Co Tyrone, has plead not guilty to the murder of his wife.

Prosecution Richard Weir QC described McKinney as a “controlling husband” who had grown tired of his wife but “was unwilling to accept the possibility of her divorcing him”.

Weir said: “Ms McKinney had been incapacitated after taking the sleeping drug Zopiclone, which was ob- tained online by her husband who caused her to enter the water.”

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

Weir added: “Mr McKinney 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.”

First prosecution witness, police constable John Stone told Dungannon Crown court, “When the police launch, the Lady Grey, drew close to the moored hire cruiser, I could clearly see a black object in the water.” He added: “The weather was good – calm waters, no rain.”

He said: “I could see a male, which turned out to be Stephen McKinney, standing wrapped in a red blanket while on the phone. “I shouted at him twice, asking where has she gone in?”. He said: “I got no reply from him.”

Officer Stone added: “At that point it was very close, or the black object was very close to the stern of the boat… from experience I believed I could tell it was a person.”

When police asked McKinney if his wife had fallen into the water, he gave no reply before eventually telling officer Stone, “It’s her.” Officer Stone described McKinney’s response as “very quiet” and “certainly not ex- citable”.

Officer Stone went on to tell the court that with the help of a crewman from the RNLI, they were able first to lift Mrs McKinney onto the cruiser diving platform, and then on to the jetty.

Officer Stone checked for vital signs, but could not find any sign of life and began CPR. He added: “Mrs McKinney was rushed by boat to the Trory jetty where an ambulance transferred her to hospital.”

He said: “On my return to the cruiser I told McKinney of his wife being taken to hospital and suggested he go with her, but he refused several times, before agreeing.”

“Mr McKinney was pacing about to and fro in the cabin and kept asking – ‘where’s Lu Na’… he was very calm.”

The trial continues.

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