Footage filmed for MTV documentary played at trial of three men accused of murdering Lyra McKee

Journalist and author was shot dead during rioting in Creggan area of Derry in April 2019

Documentary footage filmed by MTV before the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry has been played at the opening of the trial of three men accused of her murder.

Ms McKee (29) was struck in the head by a bullet as she stood close to police vehicles while observing rioting in the city’s Creggan area on the night of April 18th, 2019. The New IRA claimed responsibility for the murder.

TV presenter Reggie Yates and a crew from MTV were in Derry filming a documentary on republicans opposed to the peace process. They were recording in the period leading up to commemorations in the city to mark the 1916 Easter Rising.

Peter Cavanagh (35), of Mary Street, Derry; Jordan Gareth Devine (23), of Bishop Street, Derry; and Paul McIntyre (56), of Kells Walk, Derry, are charged with Ms McKee’s murder. They also face a number of other charges, including riotous assembly; possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent; and possession and throwing of petrol bombs. Mr McIntyre is additionally charged with membership of a proscribed organisation.

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David McDowell KC, opening the case for the prosecution, said the shooting happened at the “culmination of orchestrated disorder” in the Creggan area which flared after police arrived to conduct searches.

Mr McDowell said the prosecution would contend that the three accused had accompanied a lone gunman to the firing point on the night. The barrister said the gunman fired four shots in the direction of police Land Rovers.

“The gunman was accompanied to the firing point by a number of men who intentionally, we say, encouraged or assisted him,” he said. “The prosecution contend that three of those men who accompanied him to the firing point were Paul McIntyre, Jordan Devine and Peter Cavanagh, sometimes referred to as Gearoid.”

The non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court heard how Mr Yates and the MTV production crew were filming in Derry in the hours leading up to the murder. The film focused on Saoradh – a group the Police Service of Northern Ireland has described as the political wing of the New IRA. Mr Yates and the crew had left the riot scene shortly before the shots were fired on the night Ms McKee was killed.

The judge was told the shooting had, however, been captured by a police evidence gathering camera and mobile phone footage taken by members of the public. Sections of unedited footage shot by the MTV crew at various locations in Derry at different junctures during the day of the murder were shown to Judge Patricia Smyth as the trial opened.

The footage included a clip of Mr Yates being introduced to a number of individuals inside Saoradh’s offices in the city. Mr McDowell said the group inside the building included Mr McIntyre and Mr Devine. He drew the judge’s attention to the size and build of the men and the clothes they were wearing when they met the presenter.

Mr McDowell told the court that Saoradh saw the documentary as an opportunity to promote its message of resistance.

Another clip showed Mr Yates in a house with several Saoradh members as he was shown a video clip posted on Facebook showing police vehicles entering the Creggan area. After Mr Yates leaves the house, along with some of the defendants, the footage shows him saying to the TV camera: “It’s not what you would expect in a sleepy estate like this one.”

The group is seen making heading towards the location of the police vehicles, telling Mr Yates they are going to support their friends and there could be people there “capable of carrying out acts of resistance”.

The footage shows them encountering masked men, who Mr McDowell said appeared “quite unperturbed” by the arrival of a film crew, “suggesting they had been anticipating their arrival”. The men are seen showing petrol bombs with sugar in them, and nod when Mr Yates asks them if they were responsible for fire bombs being set off in the area two nights before.

Mr Yates also asks why the masked men want to be filmed, with one replying: “I think to show people it’s not a normal country we live in here, there are people still carrying out attacks on armed officers.”

The court was shown footage of the group throwing petrol bombs at police Land Rovers which were providing a “protective cordon” as a house was being searched. One of the vehicles and some nearby railings caught fire.

Mr McDowell said a crowd had started to gather on the street by this point, which is where Ms McKee was later shot.

Seven other men are on trial on a number of charges, including rioting and throwing petrol bombs.

They are: Joseph Patrick Barr (36), of Sandringham Drive, Derry; Jude Forest Coffey (26), of Gartan Square, Derry; William Patrick Elliott (57), of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry; Joseph Anthony Campbell (23), of Gosheden Cottages, Derry; Patrick Anthony Gallagher (32), of John Field Place, Derry; Christopher Joseph Gillen (43), of Balbane Pass, Derry; and Kieran George McCool (55), of Ballymagowan Gardens, Derry. – PA

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