Northern Ireland news

Men charged with rioting on night Lyra McKee was killed are denied bail

Paul McIntyre (51) with an address in Ballymagowan Park, in the Creggan area of Derry, was refused bail

TWO men charged with rioting offences in Derry the night a journalist was shot and killed have been refused bail.

Paul McIntyre (51) with an address in Ballymagowan Park in the Creggan area of the city, has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and arson of a hijacked vehicle.

Christopher Gillen (38) from Balbane Pass, has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and the arson and hijacking of a tipper truck.

Both men, who were arrested on Thursday, appeared together in front of District Judge Barney McElholm, but refused to stand and recognise the court when called on Saturday.

The prosecution alleges that both men are connected to the paramilitary group the New IRA, who orchestrated a night of rioting on April 18 in the Creggan area.

The New IRA has since claimed responsibility for the death of Lyra McKee.

A PSNI detective told the court that footage seized from an MTV documentary crew which, along with presenter Reggie Yates, were filming in the city on April 18, both in the offices of dissident republican linked group Saoradh that afternoon, and later during the unrest in Creggan, provided police with the evidence they allege links both men to the charges.

The PSNI said footage from MTV taken in the Saoradh office, located in Junior McDaid House, showed both men clearly and speaking in the company with other Saoradh members.

The police also claimed footage taken from CCTV and mobile phones, later supplied by witnesses, showed two masked men in identical clothing and footwear to the defendants exiting the hijacked tipper truck and later carrying a crate of petrol bombs along Fanad Drive, and later deploying them at police.

The detective added: "Police believe these were the ring leaders, that's obvious from footage."

Judge McElholm told the court he had concerns about witnesses being prevented from coming forward.

"We're all aware of the disgraceful graffiti in Creggan that warned off anyone talking to police, whoever did that, did these two men a great disservice," he said.

"I'd be inclined to agree with Father Joe Gormley, in what happens when you get people who are blinded by ideology.

"All nationalism corrupts into fascism eventually whether it's Irish nationalism or British or Polish nationalism. We've all seen where it ends up.

"I have to bear in mind these gentlemen, there's no evidence either of them belong to any paramilitary organisation but they are a part of an organisation with a defined ideology."

The murder of Ms McKee sparked a major police investigation, amid huge public outrage.

On the afternoon of April 18, after a police search of a residence in the Creggan area, a riot broke out which saw missiles including petrol bombs thrown at police officers, before a Ford Transit Tipper was set alight.

Amid the unrest, a masked gunman fired shots in the direction of police and struck the 29-year-old journalist, who later died in hospital.

Police say more than 140 people have come forward with mobile phone or social media footage and a £10,000 reward has been offered by charity Crimestoppers for anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the death of Ms McKee.

Undated family handout file photo of Lyra McKee, as two men are due to appear at Londonderry Magistrates' Court on Saturday charged with riot offences as part of the investigation into the murder of the journalist. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday May 11, 2019. A 51-year-old man has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and arson of a hijacked vehicle, and a 38-year-old man has been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and the arson and hijacking of a tipper truck. See PA story ULSTER McKee. Photo credit should read: Family handout/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

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