Donegal man jailed for life for murdering wife in staged ‘boating accident’

‘Controlling’ Stephen McKinney (44) killed Lu Na McKinney (35) on Fermanagh holiday

Stephen McKinney pictured leaving Dungannon Courthouse earlier this week before the guilty verdict. Photograph: NW Newspix

Stephen McKinney pictured leaving Dungannon Courthouse earlier this week before the guilty verdict. Photograph: NW Newspix

 

Donegal man Stephen McKinney has been jailed for life for murdering his wife as their children slept on the first night of a family boating holiday on Fermanagh’s Lower Lough Erne over four years ago.

As the unanimous guilty verdict was announced, the 44-year-old father of two swayed forward slightly on his feet, but showed no other emotion, before being led away.

Madam Justice McBride told McKinney that he had been “convicted of murder and the only sentence I can impose is one of life imprisonment”.

The Dungannon Crown Court jury of eight men and four women took just over an hour and a half to reach their unanimous verdict at the end of his 12-week trial into what occurred at the Devenish Island west jetty before McKinney made a 40-minute 999 call for help in the early hours of April 13th 2017.

Lu Na McKinney, who was killed between April 11th and 14th, 2017.
Lu Na McKinney, who was killed between April 11th and 14th, 2017.

This is the second time that Mr McKinney originally from Strabane, and who lived with his wife Lu Na and children in Convoy, Co Donegal, but bailed to live in Castletown Square, Fintona, has been on trial.

Last year his original trial for the murder of his wife between April 11th and 14th 2017, had to be adjourned because of the start of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The couple first met in Dublin when a then 20-year-old Lu Na Wang was a student, and 24-year-old McKinney worked in catering. They later married in her native China and over the years moved back and forth between there and Ireland.

However, the marriage was not always a happy one, and this was one of the reasons put forward by the prosecution for McKinney “a controlling, manipulative, coercive man” killing is wife. She had also seen a Letterkenny solicitor about obtaining a divorce from him, the court heard.

Prosecution QC Richard Weir told the jury McKinney caused Lu Na (35) to “enter the water of the Lower Lough” after she ingested at least one sleeping tablet, that he “killed her” and her death “was no tragic boating accident”.

“We say this is a controlling man, who tired of his wife but was not prepared to accept she might divorce him with all the consequences that would have,” he said.

McKinney will have to wait before the court later rules on how long he must serve before being consider for release from the life term by the parole commissioners.