Two men have appeared in front of Londonderry Magistrates’ Court this morning, charged with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee (29) on April 18, 2019.
Appearing via video link from Laganside custody suit, Jordan Devine of Synge Court Londonderry (21) and Geraroid Cavanagh (33) of Elmwood Terrace Londonderry, on top of murder charges, have also been charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, riot, possession of petrol bombs, throwing petrol bombs and arson. Cavanagh has further been charged with robbery.
Lyra’s partner – Sara Canning – was logged into the court’s proceedings to hear the outcome of the morning’s hearings.
A Detective Sergeant told the court he believed he could connect the two defendants to the charges.
Cavanagh’s Defence Barrister told the court that it was “absolutely beyond belief” that the images could be used to identify his client, and the evidence is based only on identification by two police officers and analysis of footage by an MTV film crew.
The court heard that DNA discovered on a zip of a jacket that was found burned in the area matched that of a sample taken from the defendant in 2020, the jacket matching that of one worn by an individual accompanying the gunman, from images of the incident.
The District Judge Barney McElholm granted Cavanagh bail, telling the court that the “risk of absconding was low”, releasing the defendant on his own bail of £750 and a cash surety of £25,000. The defendant must also reside at his own address, not enter the Creggan area and be electronically tagged & curfewed between the hours of 9 am & 7 am.
Like his co-accused, the court heard that police believe they also can connect Devine to the charges, again based on images of an individual involved in the incident who can be seen punching the air on April 13, 2019. The court further heard that DNA found on a hat, prominently from the defendant, appears similar to one captured on images worn by an individual involved.
Defence Barrister Mr Joe Brolly told the court that Devine’s identification was based on mass-produced clothing and that similar clothing might have been worn by his client on a previous occasion but not on the evening of the incident.
Bail was again granted on similar conditions to his co-accused. Devine was released on his own bail of £750 and a cash surety of £750.
A third man Joe Campbell (20) of Gosheder Cottages, was charged with riot, possession of petrol bombs and throwing petrol bombs on April 18, 2019. The Detective Sergeant in the case said he could connect Campbell to the charges and that Police would be opposing bail on the grounds of the likelihood of committing further offensives, telling the court that the defendant was connected to Saoradh, who had links to the proscribed organisation the IRA.
Defence for the accused argued that the police had failed to provide any new evidence that was put to the defendant two years previous, calling the case “weak”. The court further heard that if bailed, the defendant – who had previously had a clean record other than a caution – would reside with his mother in the Ardmore area of the city and would have no need to be in the Creggan area.
The defendant Campbell was bailed to reside at the address on his charge sheet, electronically tagged with a curfew of 9 pm to 7 am, not to enter the city centre and not contact any of the co-accused. The defendant is released on his own bail of £750 and a cash surety of £2500.
All three defendants have had their cases adjourned until October 7.