Belfast Telegraph

PSNI to give witnesses 'maximum protection' during Lyra McKee murder investigation

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The PSNI has said it will endeavour to give witnesses who provide information to police about the murder of Lyra McKee 'maximum protection' during its investigation.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead in the Creggan area of Londonderry on April 18 during a riot.

The New IRA has accepted responsibility for the murder.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said on the day of Lyra's funeral that police had spoken to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) about exploring ways that people could give evidence without revealing their identity.

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Lyra McKee’s funeral at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast (Brian Lawless/PA)

Yesterday, the PSNI confirmed it will seek to give witnesses "maximum protection" during its investigation.

Ultimately, however, the decision whether to grant anonymity or any other measure will be down to the courts.

"The person behind the gun gave no thought to the consequences of pulling that trigger or the danger they were putting the whole community in," a PSNI spokesman said.

"You have been united in your response. Rightly, you have condemned this violence. You have challenged the threats and intimidation that hang over your community.

"We need your help and we understand that for some, fear and intimidation feel very real. If we cannot challenge those feelings, we will resign ourselves to a future of indiscriminate violence.

"People know the gunman and his associates. They know what happened before and after the shots were fired."

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The suspected gunman (PSNI/PA)

After liaising with the PPS, the PSNI confirmed that, for the purpose of the investigation, anonymity will be provided to witnesses of the murder and the activities of the gunman.

The identity of witnesses will only be revealed to the PPS.

The spokesman added: "As a witness you may not be required to give evidence in court but if you are, we will request the maximum protection. This can include options such as anonymity, giving evidence by video link, from behind screens and with voice distortion. We have no intention of placing witnesses at risk.

"We need evidence about the gunman and his associates. Not rumour. Not speculation. Not gossip. We need first hand evidence or camera footage to identify and bring the gunman and others who were involved in Lyra’s murder to justice.

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PSNI Det Supt Jason Murphy beside an image of the suspected gunman

"We stand right alongside you as part of the community. Together we have an opportunity to bring a meaningful and lasting change.

"Please pick up the phone and share what information you have. The investigation team is happy to meet with you directly or you can pass information to the team by phoning 101.

"You can also share details of what you know, or any phone footage or images to the Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP.police.uk).

"Please help us to bring this violence to an end."

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