Pair in court in McKee investigation


Image copyright Francesco Cuoccio/IJF
Image caption Lyra McKee was observing rioting in Derry when she was shot dead

Two Londonderry men have appeared in court charged with rioting in the city on the night last month that writer Lyra McKee was murdered.

Christopher Gillen, 38, of Balbane Pass and Paul McIntyre, 51, of Ballymagowan Park, were remanded in custody.

The city’s magistrates’ court was told that evidence against them has been obtained from mobile phone footage and a documentary filmed on the day by MTV.

Police believe the two men are members of the New IRA, the court heard.

Mr Gillen, who is unemployed, is charged with rioting, petrol bomb offences and the hijacking and arson of a tipper truck.

Mr McIntyre, who works as a taxi driver, is accused of rioting, petrol bomb offences and the arson of a hijacked vehicle.

A police officer told the court that the police had gone into Derry’s Creggan estate on 18 April to conduct searches but that was followed by a “sustained attack” by people who were wearing masks.

Four vehicles were hijacked, he added.

Police believe the two men can be connected to the rioting by clothing shown on various sources of video footage, including the MTV material, which was described by the officer as “excellent”.

The prosecution lawyer said they believed that people were using the filming of the MTV documentary in the area for their own purposes as “a propaganda operation”.

A solicitor representing Mr McIntyre described the case against him as “extremely weak”.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police were searching for weapons and ammunition when violence started on 18 April

He said his client was willing to live outside the city and accept a number of conditions if he was granted bail.

The police officer told Mr Gillen’s solicitor that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) believes both men were members of the New IRA.

When the solicitor said the police had “no evidence” to support that belief, the officer replied: “That’s correct.”

During his deliberations about bail applications for both men, the judge referred to what he described as “disgraceful graffiti” that appeared in the Creggan estate recently, warning people not to give information to the police.

He said the people who did that did a disservice to the two men before the court.

Ms McKee, 29, was shot while observing rioting in the Creggan area on 18 April.

There was violent disorder throughout the evening leading up to her death.

Violence broke out after raids were carried out by police, with detectives investigating dissident republican activity in the Mulroy Park and Galliagh areas.

The New IRA said its members carried out the murder.

Ms McKee’s killing led to an outpouring of grief and calls for politicians in Northern Ireland to return to power sharing.

An 18-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, who were arrested last week by detectives investigating Ms McKee’s death, were released without charge.

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