The evidence against a man accused of rioting on the night that journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead is an “affront to justice”, a court has been told.
Ms McKee (29) was shot dead in Derry in April 2019 as she observed rioting in the Creggan area.
Kieran George McCool, from Ballymagowan Gardens in Creggan, appeared by video link before Derry Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning.
Mr McCool is charged with rioting, as well as throwing petrol bombs, on the night of Ms McKee’s death. He is also charged with assault on the same night.
Det Sgt Gary Moore from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told the court that he could connect the accused to the charge.
Mr McCool was granted bail on Monday by Deputy District Judge Liam McStay.
The defence lawyer in the case said that he did not accept that the prosecution had any evidence against Mr McCool and said that his client denied the charges.
Part of the evidence the prosecution presented is based on footage the police obtained from an MTV documentary crew that was making a film in the Creggan area with presenter Reggie Yates on the night of the riot.
The defence lawyer called the evidence presented against his client an “affront to justice”.
He questioned why it had taken so long for the charges to be brought against his client. “The material on which the prosecution rely, they have had in their possession for 2½ years,” he told the court.
He said there was no indication from the footage that his client had been planning unrest or a riot that night.
He said his client was among dozens of other men, women and children who had watched the unrest unfold that night in April 2019. "Mr Yates, from MTV, can he heard expressing incredulity that men, women and children from the estate have gathered to watch," the defence lawyer said.
He said that his client lives in the estate where the rioting took place.
Mr McCool’s defence lawyer also rejected the assault charge. The prosecution said that Mr McCool had been identified by 14 police officers from the footage.
The defence lawyer said that the evidence presented by the prosecution did not show an assault and said that the man who was allegedly assaulted had never made any statement to police in relation to the incident.
The prosecution opposed bail for Mr McCool and said that there was a risk of the defendant reoffending.
The defence lawyer told the court it would be “unconscionable” for Mr McCool not to be granted bail and said that other defendants facing charges linked to the events of that night in April 2019 had been granted bail.
The judge agreed and granted bail. Conditions included a £1,000 surety and a bail payment of £500.
The defendant must also reside at his home address and will face a curfew of 9pm, as well as being electronically tagged.
Mr McCool must report regularly to the PSNI in Derry and must not have any contact with other people who are facing charges over the riot.
The extremist group that styles itself as the New IRA has previously claimed it was responsible for killing the Belfast journalist and author Ms McKee.
Three men have already been charged with the murder of Ms McKee and another four have been charged with rioting and associated offences.
The next hearing will take place on October 28th. – PA