Niall Sheerin sentenced to 12 years for storing the gun that killed Lyra McKee

A Derry man who admitted to ‘storing’ the gun used to murder Lyra McKee has been sentenced to a total of 12 years.

After classifying Niall Sheerin as a “dangerous” offender, Mr Justice Fowler handed down an extended sentence of seven years in prison followed by five years in prison.

The 29-year-old father of three from Tyrconnell Street admitted to being in possession of a Hammerli .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a magazine and a quantity of .22 caliber cartridges with the intention of enabling another person to live to endanger or cause serious property damage Appointments between September 22, 2018 and June 6, 2020.

The senior judge said that while Sheerin was believed ignorant of the gun’s history – which included its use by the New IRA in the assassination of Ms McKee – he considered that Sheerin was “an associate of a terrorist gang was who posed a danger to the public.

“He volunteered to help them by keeping this weapon in a condition where it can easily be used again.”

Ms McKee, a 29-year-old journalist and author, died after she died on April 18.

Members of her family were in the dock yesterday in the public gallery in Court 12 of Belfast Crown Court, just meters from Sheerin.

After the lone person was convicted of a felony related to her death, Lyra’s sister, Nichola McKee Corner, told Corner, “Now the story of the gun is over, but the story of the shooter goes on.

“We are again appealing to anyone with information regarding the identity of the shooter to come forward and ensure Lyra gets justice.”

Ms McKee’s family heard that the weapon used in her murder was found in fields on Whitehouse Road in Derry in June 2020 during a joint PSNI-Army search.

A plastic garbage bag was found in a hole in the ground behind a telegraph pole, and the pistol and an empty magazine were in a second bag inside the garbage bag, along with loose rounds of compatible ammunition.

The items underwent forensic testing and Sheerin’s DNA was found on multiple locations on the gun, including the safety catch.

The gun had been used in five separate attacks by dissidents in Derry and a total of five bullets were fired from the gun and aimed at police lines in Creggan on the night Ms McKee was killed.

According to the forensic evidence, Sheerin was arrested at 7 a.m. on July 15, 2020. He didn’t answer when warned and was questioned seven times with total silence.

During the sixth interview, Sheerin issued a written statement denying involvement in dissident Republican activity related to the gun.

Sheerin also denied both the riots in the Fanad Drive area of ​​Derry the night Ms McKee lost her life and any involvement in her murder.

In the statement, Sheerin also denied touching or handling the gun and claimed he was “at a loss” as to how his DNA was found on it.

Mr Justice Fowler said Sheerin’s eventual plea for possession of the gun was made on a “second link” basis, with the intention of allowing others to endanger life.

The judge added that while Sheerin could not be determined to know the history of the gun, he “was aware that he was in possession of this gun and that he was using this gun on behalf of a terrorist organization, namely the New IRA in Derry. kept.

“As a resident of Derry, the defendant would have been aware of New IRA activities in that area and would have been aware that this organization carried out gun attacks including punitive shootings in the area and the shooting of Lyra McKee.”

In addition to incarceration, Sheerin will also be subject to terrorist reporting requirements under the Terrorist Act for the next 15 years.

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