Lyra McKee murder accused bailed

By Michael McHugh, PA

A man accused of murdering journalist Lyra McKee has been granted bail.

The 29-year-old was shot dead by dissident republicans while observing a riot in Derry in April last year.

An extremist group styling itself as the New IRA said it carried out the killing.

Paul McIntyre, 52, appeared before a district judge in Londonderry via video link from prison on Thursday.

Judge Barney McElholm said: “Society is demanding justice for Lyra McKee. But justice is no good if one-sided, biased or not seen to be unscrupulously honest.”

He said that as early as the 1970s, he had decided to do his bit to support the rule of law.

“I will grant Mr McIntyre bail,” he added.

Police believe the man accused of murdering the journalist was the same height as someone seen picking up casings from bullets used to kill her, a detective told the court.

But McIntyre’s defence cast doubt on the credibility of an expert witness and the matching of photos of him with images from the night.

The solicitor said the issues were “insurmountable”.

Ms McKee was standing near a police vehicle when she was hit by a bullet fired by a masked gunman towards officers in April last year.

McIntyre, pictured during a previous court appearance, is charged with murder, possession of a firearm and belonging to or professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation (PA)

An officer told Mr McElholm a mapping expert had visited the scene to confirm that a person photographed there was the same height as McIntyre.

McIntyre is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and belonging to or professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation.

His address was given in court as Kinnego Park in Derry.

Dressed in a red jumper, he sat throughout the hearing.

The defendant made a gesture like punching the air when he was told he would be granted bail.

Mr McElholm said: “This particular murder has been greeted with almost universal condemnation in society.”

The judge said he “could not understand” those who espoused violence.

He added there was “no smoking gun”, as such, in this case.

A prosecution barrister said they would appeal against the bail decision in the High Court.

A number of Ms McKee’s friends were in court but left quickly after the decision to grant bail was made.

No protest in support of the accused was held outside the court, as had been the case for his previous appearance.

Police officers were inside the courthouse.

The case will return to court next month.