Man who admitted possessing gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee in Derry has been sentenced to seven years in prison

A man who admitted possession of the gun that killed journalist Lyra McKee in Derry has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Iall Sheerin, 29, of Tyrconnell Street in the city, admitted possession of the Hammerli pistol between September 11, 2018 and June 6, 2020.

Ms McKee was shot dead while covering riots in the Creggan area of ​​Derry in 2019.

Earlier this month, Sheerin appeared before Belfast Crown Court, where his solicitor put forward the case that he had ‘stored’ the gun for a short time – but was unaware of its history.

Ms McKee – a 29-year-old journalist and author – died after being hit by a bullet fired at police during riots in the Creggan area of ​​April 2019.


Niall Sheerin, jailed for possessing the gun that shot journalist Lyra McKee

The New IRA then claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting.

Before the murder, the pistol had been used in four Republican attacks by dissidents in Derry and was found in a planned search over a year after her death.

A QC announced that on 5 June 2020 the police and army conducted a search of fields in the Whitehouse Road area of ​​Derry.

A plastic garbage bag was found in a hole in the ground behind a telegraph pole, and the pistol and an empty magazine were in a second bag in the garbage bag, along with loose ammunition.

The items were removed, subjected to forensic testing, and Sheerin’s DNA was found on two locations on the gun.


A photo released by PSNI of the gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee

The Crown Counsel said: “The initial profile was at least a billion times more likely to come from the accused than from a randomly selected unrelated male.”

He also revealed that when the gun was found, it was in “good condition” and had “shot residue in the barrel, suggesting it had not been cleaned since the last shot was fired.”

Based on the DNA evidence, Sheerin was arrested at 7 a.m. on July 15, 2022. He didn’t answer when warned and was questioned seven times with total silence.

During the sixth interview, the father-of-three issued a written statement denying involvement in dissident republican activities related to the weapon.


A police officer lays flowers at the scene in Derry after the death of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee

Sheerin also denied both the riots in the Fanad Drive area of ​​Derry the night Ms McKee lost her life and any involvement in her murder.

In the statement, the bookmaker also denied touching or handling the gun and claimed it was “at a loss” as to how his DNA was found on it.

He later admitted to possessing a .22 caliber Hämmerli self-loading pistol, a magazine and a quantity of .22 caliber cartridges between September 22, 2018 and June 6, 2020 with the intention of enabling another person to live endanger or cause serious damage to property.

The Crown Counsel told Mr Justice Fowler that while it could not be established that Sheerin was aware of the specific history of this weapon, it was the Crown’s case that he was aware of the dissident republican activities in Derry at the material time.

Referring to that issue, defense attorney Kieran Mallon QC addressed the “misunderstanding” of Sheerin’s involvement in the gun – again emphasizing that his client was not at Creggan the night Ms McKee was murdered.

Mr. Mallon also pointed out that his client was “not aware of the specific history of the firearm” — but through his request, Sheerin accepted “that he came into contact with it some time later.” The lawyer added that his client is a hard-working family man.

Continue… Man who admitted possessing gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee in Derry has been sentenced to seven years in prison

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