Time has come for Charlotte's Law

Charlotte Murray and Lu Na McKinney were two much loved women when they were murdered in the prime of their young lives by devious and calculating partners who were determined to avoid being held accountable for their crimes.

Excellent police work eventually brought each of the perpetrators to justice, and the circumstances surrounding the cases need to be carefully considered as the spotlight is placed ever more firmly on all forms of domestic violence.

Stephen McKinney was told last week that he must serve a minimum of 20 years in jail for killing Lu Na (35), whose body was recovered beside a jetty in Lough Erne where they had been on a boating holiday away from their Donegal home with their two young children in April, 2017.

McKinney claimed that Lu Na had fallen accidently into the water, but there were obvious contradictions in his evidence and sleeping medication which he had obtained online was found in her system.

She had previously sought advice on how to obtain a divorce, and evidence emerged yesterday that she had actually predicted the way in which he might kill her.

A jury took only two hours to find McKinney guilty, with the trial judge declaring that the murder was the culmination of coercive and controlling behaviour throughout their marriage

Lu Na's relatives in her native China said they found the investigation particularly difficult but they were thankful that so many people were fighting for her.

The family of Charlotte Murray, who was 34 when she disappeared from her Tyrone home in October, 2012, do not even have the comfort of a grave to visit as no trace of her has never been found.

Her partner, Johnny Millar, who convicted of her murder in 2019 and subsequently ordered to serve at least 16 year in jail, has callously refused to reveal what he did with her body.

A consultation was launched last week with the support of her family which will hopefully result in new legislation to be known as Charlotte’s Law which would impose binding parole restrictions on killers who display the same appalling attitude as Millar.

Certainty of detection and severity of punishment have shamefully not always followed those who inflict domestic violence but public opinion, as demonstrated by the Reclaim The Night rally in Belfast at the weekend, is insisting that the tide is turning.