Man jailed for possession of gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee

A man has been jailed in Northern Ireland for possession of the gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to intentionally possessing a gun between September 2018 and June 2020.

He was given a seven-year prison sentence and a further five-year suspended sentence by Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Mackey was shot dead in April 2019 while observing a riot in the western city of Derry, in a crime that has shocked the UK and Ireland.

The New IRA, a splinter group from the former IRA, admitted to shooting “tragically” Mackie, but denied there was any intent to kill. Three men await trial for her murder.

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said the 29-year-old was linked to a “terrorist gang that poses a danger to society”.

But the man was not convicted of murder because prosecutors were unable to prove the “exact date of the gun.”

The court heard how a Hammerli X-Esse .22 pistol and ammunition wrapped in plastic bags were found and buried in a field in Derry in 2020.

Ballistics tests showed the gun was used in the Maki shootings and four other shootings in the city over the past 21 months.

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