Lu Na McKinney: Murder trial told body was 'clearly visible' in water

By Julian Fowler
BBC News NI South-West Reporter

  • Published
Boat at jetty in Lough ErneImage source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Lu Na McKinney drowned during a family boating holiday on Lough Erne

A policeman who recovered the body of a woman allegedly drowned by her husband has told a murder trial she was clearly visible in the water close to the boat.

Lu Na McKinney, 35, died during a boating holiday in County Fermanagh in April 2017.

Stephen McKinney, 43, of Castletown Square in Fintona, County Tyrone, denies murdering his wife.

She drowned after entering the water at Devenish Island during an Easter holiday with their two children.

The trial at Dungannon Crown Court heard from a constable on board the police boat which was the first to arrive on the scene.

The constable said he asked Mr McKinney, who was standing on the deck of the hire boat wrapped in a red blanket, where she had entered the water.

"I asked: 'Where did she go in?' and I got no reply," he said.

The constable, who used a torch to search the water around the boat, told the court: "I saw a black object in the water, very close to the stern of the hire boat.

"I believed it was a person."

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Lu Na McKinney's lifeless body was pulled from the water by police

The officer recalled that Mr McKinney said: "She's here."

He described the accused as being "fairly quiet - it certainly wasn't excitable".

When the officer went aboard the hire boat he said he could see the black object "very clearly" using only moonlight and the lights of the hire boat.

"Visibility was good. I could see it clearly," he said.

He told the jury she was about 3ft to 4ft away (0.9m to 1.2m), just out of reach by hand, and he used a boat hook from the police boat to reach her.

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew helped him to retrieve Mrs McKinney from the water onto the jetty.

The officer said there were no signs of life and he began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before transferring her by lifeboat to an ambulance waiting on the land.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Stephen McKinney denies murdering his wife

He said he returned to the hire boat and spoke to Mr McKinney and told him he should got to hospital to be checked over.

"I told him his wife was going by ambulance to hospital and suggested he go with her.

"He reiterated he didn't want to go to hospital", he said.

"He refused several times - he didn't want to go to hospital," the officer said - Mr McKinney later changed his mind.

Under cross examination by a defence lawyer, the constable confirmed that he could not be sure that the black object he had seen in the water was a body until it had been recovered.

He also said she was in an upright position in the water.

Another officer who stayed with Mr McKinney when his wife was brought ashore said he was pacing back and forth asking a number of times "where's Lu Na?"

He said he appeared to be "very calm".

In response to questioning from the defence lawyer, the officer confirmed that in a statement at the time he had recorded that due to his demeanour Mr McKinney may have been in shock.

Mr McKinney, who is originally from Strabane, County Tyrone, denies murder and claims his wife drowned in a tragic accident.

The trial continues.