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Man jailed for owning the gun used in murder of journalist Lyra McKee

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A man has been jailed in Northern Ireland for possessing the gun used in the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to willful possession of a weapon between September 2018 and June 2020.

He was sentenced Wednesday by a criminal court in Belfast to seven years’ imprisonment and a further five years’ suspended sentence.

McKee was shot dead in April 2019 while watching riots in the western city of Derry, in a crime that sent shockwaves through Britain and Ireland.

The New IRA, a splinter group in the former Irish Republican Army, admitted to shooting McKee “tragically” but denied intent to kill. Three men await trial for her murder.

A Belfast Criminal Court judge said the 29-year-old was linked to a “terrorist organization that poses a danger to society”.

However, the man was never convicted of murder because prosecutors were unable to prove “a certain history of guns.”

A court has heard how a Hammerli X-Esse .22 pistol and ammunition were found wrapped in a plastic bag and buried in a field in Delhi in 2020.

Ballistics tests showed that the gun had been used in the McKee shooting and four other shootings in the city over the past 21 months.

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