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Lyra McKee murder accused Paul McIntyre refused bail

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Paul McIntyre

Paul McIntyre

PA

Paul McIntyre

A man charged with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee has been refused bail due to the risk of re-offending and interfering with witnesses, a judge has ruled.

Ms McKee, 28, was shot dead by a New IRA gunman in the Creggan area of Londonderry last April.

District Judge Steven Keown made the ruling at the magistrate's court in Derry following a bail application by a barrister for Paul McIntyre, 52, who is currently in custody in Maghaberry Prison charged with murdering Ms McKee on April 18, 2019.

The defendant from Kinnego Park in Derry, who denies the murder charge, is also charged with professing to belong to the IRA, possessing and throwing petrol bombs, riotous assembly, possessing a handgun and ammunition with intent to endanger life or to enable another person to do so.

He is also facing charges of hijacking and setting fire to a tipper truck and to an Audi car as well as possessing a holdall for use in an act of terrorism.

Those offences are also alleged to have occurred on April 18 of last year.

Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said his bail application was based on a change of circumstances in that there was no witness, mobile phone nor any identification evidence against the defendant nor, he added was there any biometric evidence against the defendant.

He also said there was no evidence, as claimed by the prosecution, of a statement from a woman who alleged reported that the defendant had said to her - "It was not me, it was one of our member's sons".

Mr Devlin said when the defendant had been granted bail earlier this year there were no issues.

He said a committal date in the case had been fixed for June 15 but he submitted "there is no chance that date will be met".

Mr Devlin said that alone "tips the balance in favour of granting him bail".

He said one of the key aspects of the Crown case against the defendant, which was mentioned during a High Court bail application, of the incriminating comment he allegedly made to the woman, no longer existed.

Objecting to bail, a prosecution barrister said the core evidence against the defendant in terms of his height, CCTV footage and his identification by police officers still existed.

He said that evidence showed that a degree of reasonable suspicion still existed against the defendant and he said that other evidence was forthcoming.

The prosecutor said he believed the defendant, if granted bail, would re-offend and interfere with witnesses or engage other people to do so on his behalf.

"The grounds for keeping him in custody still exist", he said.

The district judge said while the Crown now accepted that a female witness "could no longer be relied upon" represented a change in circumstances, he believed the risk the defendant posed in terms of re-offending or witness interference "is too great to warrant granting bail".

Bail was refused and the case was adjourned until May 21.

Belfast Telegraph