Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Lyra McKee murder suspect set to be a dad - teen's baby conceived same week of fatal shooting


29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee
29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee's sister Nicola Corner with an illustrated cover of Lyra's book, Angels With Blue Faces
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

THE teen suspected of carrying out the New IRA murder of journalist Lyra McKee is to become a father.

In a cruel twist of fate, the radicalised 18-year-old's new baby was conceived in the same week he gunned down his victim, who was innocently observing a riot in the Creggan area of Derry city.

A republican insider said: "It's deeply ironic that he created a new life in the same week he ended an existing one."

After Lyra's killing the young gunman, who has not yet faced any charges over the violence which led to her death, was moved across the border to Donegal, where he stayed in a safe house for several weeks.

New IRA chief Thomas Ashe Mellon banned him from watching television or reading online news reports in case the outpouring of grief following the senseless murder left him emotionally broken.

After laying low for a time, he re-emerged in Derry last month and has been pictured in the company of prominent dissident republicans.

His young girlfriend, who has links to the New IRA's political wing Saoradh, recently announced that she was pregnant with their baby. She went for her 12-week scan almost 12 weeks to the day that Lyra was murdered, meaning her child was conceived at the time of the killing.

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The teen suspected of killing Lyra McKee has been openly associating with dissidents
The teen suspected of killing Lyra McKee has been openly associating with dissidents

Our source added: "Her pregnancy is the talk of the city and is the reason why the teenager who murdered Lyra came back from Donegal so quickly. He was itching to return so he could support his girlfriend."

Rather than keep his head down he has been pictured out and about with prominent New IRA members, including the man suspected of trying to blow up Bishop Street courthouse in January.

Another local told us: "The young fella has no shame. It's like he is revelling in his reputation as the gunman who killed Lyra McKee. The only difference now is that he is using the Irish version of his name."

While the teenage New IRA killer gets on with his life and looks forward to becoming a father, the family of his victim remain heartbroken at the needless loss of Lyra's life.

Speaking at the launch of her sister's posthumously published book Angels With Blue Faces, Nichola Corner said: "Lyra didn't view people through their labels. She viewed people as people.

"She didn't care what label you wanted to attribute to yourself at all, it didn't matter to her. It was the human being that concerned her.

The killer of Lyra McKee firing at police during rioting in Derry.
The killer of Lyra McKee firing at police during rioting in Derry.
Emmet McSheffrey

"I don't feel like I can celebrate and if she was here we would have celebrated."

Belfast-born Lyra had been living with her partner Sara Canning in the Creggan for a year when she was shot dead on April 18.

The area has been the centre point for several New IRA-instigated riots, including violence in June that led to Emmet McSheffrey being charged.

The 20-year-old, who is accused of riotous behaviour, encouraging others to riot and throwing bricks at PSNI vehicles, was recently moved from Hydebank Young Offenders' Centre to the dissident wing of Maghaberry Prison.

This was after he staged a dirty protest at being initially refused the transfer.

Saoradh welcomed McSheffrey's relocation to the high-security jail. It had earlier complained: "The Saoradh POW department demands his immediate transfer to the republican wing and an end to this psychological harassment."

The PSNI has publicly accused McSheffrey of being one of the main protagonists behind trouble in the Creggan area.

During a failed bail application by the young dissident, a detective told a court: "The police believe the defendant orchestrated the violence and manipulated children to do so and to join in."

A prosecution lawyer added: "Police described him as whipping up the children and encouraging them in this attack."

McSheffrey's new home on the dissident Roe House wing of Maghaberry will see him share a landing with two others accused of rioting on the night Lyra McKee was murdered. They are Paul McIntyre (51) and Christopher Gillen (38), who are also accused of petrol bomb offences and the arson of a hijacked vehicle.

A key aspect of the case against them is film footage handed over by an MTV crew which was interviewing dissident republicans for a documentary in the hours leading up to Lyra's killing. The New IRA riot on the night of her shooting was staged by the gang for the cameras.

The PSNI say that MTV recordings earlier that day show McIntyre and Gillen in the company of Saoradh members in its Derry headquarters.

Police also claim that footage from the violence later that night shows two masked men in identical clothing and footwear getting out of a hijacked truck and carrying a crate of petrol bombs along Fanad Drive that were thrown at cops.

Lyra was standing on the street observing the trouble when she was shot by her hooded killer.

Belfast Telegraph


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