MTV documentary footage filmed on day Lyra McKee was shot played at murder trial

Documentary footage filmed by MTV prior to the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee has been played at the opening of the trial of three men accused of her murder.

Ms McKee, 29, died after being struck in the head by a bullet as she stood close to police vehicles while observing rioting in the Creggan area of Londonderry on the night of April 18 2019.

The New IRA claimed responsibility for the author’s murder.

TV presenter Reggie Yates and the MTV crew were in Derry filming a documentary on republicans opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process on the day of the shooting.

They were filming in the period leading up to traditional republican commemorations in the city to mark the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Dublin.

Peter Cavanagh, 35, of Mary Street, Derry; Jordan Gareth Devine, 23, of Bishop Street, Derry; and Paul McIntyre, 56, of Kells Walk, Derry, are charged with Ms McKee’s murder.

Lyra Mckee death court case
The sister of Lyra McKee, Nichola Corner-McKee, arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

The three also face a number of other charges, including riotous assembly, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent, as well as possession of, and throwing of, petrol bombs.

McIntyre is additionally charged with membership of a proscribed organisation.

David McDowell KC, opening the case for the prosecution, said the shooting happened at the “culmination of orchestrated disorder” in the Creggan area.

The violence flared after police entered the area to conduct searches.

Mr McDowell said the prosecution would contend that the three men accused of murder had accompanied a lone gunman to the firing point on the night.

The barrister said the gunman had fired four shots in the direction of police Land Rovers.

“The gunman was accompanied to the firing point by a number of men who intentionally, we say, encouraged or assisted him,” he said.

“The prosecution contend that three of those men who accompanied him to the firing point were Paul McIntyre, Jordan Devine and Peter Cavanagh, sometimes referred to as Gearoid.”

The non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court heard how TV presenter Yates and the MTV production crew were filming their documentary in Derry in the hours leading up to the murder.

The film focused on Saoradh – a group the Police Service of Northern Ireland has described as the political wing of the New IRA.

Lyra Mckee death court case
Accused Peter McIntyre outside Laganside Court in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Yates and the crew had left the riot scene shortly before the shots were fired on the night Ms McKee was killed, the court heard.

The judge was told the shooting had, however, been captured by a police evidence gathering camera and mobile phone footage taken by members of the public.

Sections of unedited footage shot by the MTV crew at various locations in Derry at different junctures during the day of the murder were shown to Judge Patricia Smyth as the trial opened.

The footage included a clip of Yates being introduced to a number of individuals inside Saoradh’s offices in the city. Mr McDowell said the group inside the building included Paul McIntyre and Jordan Devine.

He drew the judge’s attention to the size and build of the men and the clothes they were wearing when they met Yates.

Mr McDowell told the court that Saoradh saw the documentary as an opportunity to promote its message of resistance.

“It’s apparent that Saoradh viewed the documentary production as a means to promote their message,” he said.

British Independent Film Awards 2019 – London
Reggie Yates was filming a documentary in Derry on the day of the murder (PA)

Another clip showed Yates in a house along with several Saoradh members as he was shown a video clip posted on a Facebook group showing police vehicles entering the Creggan area.

After Yates leaves the house, along with several of the defendants, the footage shows him saying to the TV camera: “It’s not what you would expect in a sleepy estate like this one.

“When you look at it it just doesn’t really add up that this is going to be the home of some of the most feared and chastised political leaders in the area, who just happen to be in their 20s.

“The boys don’t seem particularly calm about things, they actually look quite worried.”

The group are seen making their way towards the location of the police vehicles, telling Yates they are going to support their friends and there could be people there “capable of carrying out acts of resistance”.

The footage shows them encountering masked men, who Mr McDowell said appeared “quite unperturbed” by the arrival of a film crew, “suggesting they had been anticipating their arrival”.

The men are seen showing petrol bombs with sugar in them, and nod when Yates asks them if they were responsible for fire bombs being set off in the area two nights before.

Yates also asks why the masked men want to be filmed, with one of the defendants replying: “I think to show people it’s not a normal country we live in here, there are people still carrying out attacks on armed officers.”

The court was shown footage of the group throwing petrol bombs at police Land Rovers which were providing a “protective cordon” as a house was being searched. One of the vehicles and some nearby railings were set on fire as a result.

Mr McDowell said a crowd had started to gather on the street by this point, which is later where Ms McKee was shot.

Seven other men are on trial on a number of charges, including rioting and throwing petrol bombs.

They are: Joseph Patrick Barr, 36, of Sandringham Drive, Derry; Jude Forest Coffey, 26, of Gartan Square, Derry; William Patrick Elliott, 57, of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry; Joseph Anthony Campbell, 23, of Gosheden Cottages, Derry; Patrick Anthony Gallagher, 32, of John Field Place, Derry; Christopher Joseph Gillen, 43, of Balbane Pass, Derry; and Kieran George McCool, 55, of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry.

Ms McKee’s partner Sara Canning and her sister Nichola Corner McKee were among those attending the opening of the trial at Belfast’s Laganside Courts.