A TYRONE man who murdered his wife while on a boat trip on Lough Erne has been sentenced to a minimum of 20 years.
Stephen McKinney (44), previously of Convoy but with an address at Castletown Square in Fintona was sentenced by trial judge, Madam Justice McBride at the Crown Court sitting in Belfast today (Thursday). He had been earlier found guilty by a jury at Dungannon Crown Court.
Sentencing McKinney, Madam Justice McBride said McKinney had left a ‘trail of destruction’ behind him and had robbed his ‘gentle and lighthearted wife’ of seeing her children grow-up, go to College and have children of their own.
She added that there were a number of aggravating factors which had influenced the sentencing.
As he was being sentenced, McKinney shouted in the court that he was ‘innocent of the crime’ and that the case had ‘ruined his children’s lives.’
“You treated your wife throughout the marriage with disrespect, abused her, degraded her and manipulated and controlled her and finally you took away her life,” she said.
“It was such a needless and cruel action. You were someone that she should have been able to trust, but you betrayed that position and ended her life prematurely.
“Lu Na has been described as gentle and light-hearted and was only 35 when she died.You denied her the opportunity of seeing her children grow up, go to College and having their own families. You have left a trail of destruction in your wake, and children you have been deprived of their mother’s love, care and support. As a result of your actions, you have left the children without a parent to care for them and their lives have been irreparably damaged.”
Madam Justice McBride went on to tell McKinney that he had caused endless hurt and pain by what she described as his ‘cruel and callous actions.’
“This crime was committed in cold blood, it was carefully planned and ruthlessly executed and carried out when Lu Na was entirely defenceless,” she added.
Earlier at Dungannon Crown Court, the jury took just over an hour-and-a-half to reach their unanimous verdict after hearing evidence of what occurred at the Devenish Island west jetty, on Lower Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, before his 40-minute 999 call for help in the early hours of April 13, 2017. Rather than his wife’s death being a tragic accident as he claimed, McKinney pushed or led his wife into the water. She was unable to swim and, at the time of her murder, had consumed a quantity of sleeping pills.
Earlier this month, Madam Justice McBride, has reflected on submissions from prosecution and defence lawyers in a pre-sentencing hearing. Pre-sentence reports had not been deemed necessary in the case and McKinney was told that the aggravating factors necessitated a higher starting point for sentencing.