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Man accused of killing wife Lu Na McKinney weeps as 999 calls played in court

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Lu Na McKinney

Lu Na McKinney

Lu Na McKinney

An alleged controlling husband, whose wife was "incapacitated" by drugs he supplied before allegedly "putting her" into the cold waters of Fermanagh's Lower Lough Erne, sobbed and wept quietly on Monday as his 999 calls were played to his trial.

Stephen McKinney sat in the dock of Dungannon Crown Court with his head down cast as he and the jury of seven men and five women listened to over forty minutes of two emergency calls made shortly after 1am on April 13, 2017.

Throughout, the 43-year-old father of two, originally from Strabane but living with his 35-year-old wife Lu Na in Convoy, Donegal, but now with an address in Castletown Square, Fintona, Tyrone, was seen lifting his glasses to wipe tears from his eyes.

At times the recordings were almost inaudible and hard to make out as it appeared Mr McKinney was almost breathless, panting, crying and breathing heavily as he repeatedly pleaded for help from the operator.

He opened his initial call panting as he told the emergency call handler: "My , my, my wife fell in the lake" and that the hire boat they had been on was at Devenish Island.

During the calls Mr McKinney, complaining of the cold, said he'd jumped in after his young wife in a bid to save her when she fell into the water after they'd gone to check on the vessels mooring ropes, which she thought had loosened somehow.

He claimed he'd gotten a hold of her, but that she had kept pulling him down, and then he lost sight of her. He also threatened to jump back into the lake in an effort to find her, but was instructed to remain on board for the sake of their two children.

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Stephen McKinney at court previously

Stephen McKinney at court previously

Stephen McKinney at court previously

However, by the time he reported the police emergency launch coming into view, Mr McKinney was claiming that he could see his wife in the water.

In the end, as the police pulled up beside them, Mr McKinney was heard repeatedly saying: "I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do", as he as continually advised to stay on the boat.

To help the jury follow the calls, they were provided with transcripts which the court heard earlier were especially drawn up after the calls were put through specialist equipment to amplify their sound. At times the transcripts bore the legends, in brackets, crying, panting, heavy breathing, to reflect what was being heard.

Mr McKinney began by telling the operator how his wife fell into the lake and that he had jumped in after her, as he pleaded, "please get someone here quickly... please, please, please".

He explained his wife Lu Na thought the boat was "moving, so we got of to try and tie down and she slipped , and I jumped in to try and help her... can you get someone here quickly". A short time later the emergency call suddenly ended.

Mr McKinney told the second operator his phone had stopped working as he repeated his plea for help, also revealing she was not wearing a life jacket as he had given them to their two children.

At times Mr McKinney said he needed "to get back into the water... I need to be going back into the water ... oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God".

"Please, please, please, just come quickly, please, I can't see her, I don't see her," he repeatedly asked of the call handler, who at one stage told him to get something to wrap up warm, as he talked of being cold.

While being told, "you have to remain calm" for his children, again and again the Tyrone man said he needed "to get my my, I need to get my wife... I need to go and get my Lu Na... I need to get back in and get Lu Na, I need to get Lu Na".

Asked how long his wife was in the water, Mr McKinney said he didn't know, but thought it could be "maybe ten minutes... she slipped away from me". Complaining he didn't know "what to do", he was told by the operator: "You have done as much as you can".

At one stage he claimed he heard "somebody banging on the boat... I hear somebody... I think it could be Lu Na... I hear banging".

But then he repeated that he couldn't see anyone, before telling the operator that he was "okay", only to repeat: "I just need to find Lu Na, I need to get Lu Na, I need to get Lu Na".

Mr McKinney could be heard on the tape telling of his attempts to save his wife. He said he tried to pull her up, but she kept "pulling him down" as he fought to hang on to her by her coat with one hand and on to the boat with his other.

"I shouldn't have let her go," he was heard saying, and that he wanted to get back into the water.

Eventually as the police boat arrive, he claimed: "Agh Lu Na I see her drifting... I think I see her, I think I see her".

Belfast Telegraph