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01 Dec 2021

WATCH: Donegal based father who murdered his wife is jailed for a minimum of 20 years

Detective Superintendent appeals to people who feel trapped in relationships to seek help

Donegal based father Stephen McKinney has been sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for the murder of his wife Lu Na McKinney. 

The 44-year-old Strabane native had been living in Convoy. He was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday to serve a sentence of at least 20 years imprisonment. 

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan from Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Major Investigation Team said: “Today my thoughts are very much with Lu Na’s children and her family whose suffering and loss will live with them for the rest of their lives."

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017 Stephen McKinney took his family on a boating trip on Lough Erne – Lu Na would never return alive.  Her children would return without their mother.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan recalled the ensuing police investigation.

He said: “Following a 999 call from Stephen McKinney stating his wife had fallen into the water and he could not find her, a thorough police investigation ensued.

“Through the dedication and tenacity of the investigating officers, along with the testimonies of expert witnesses who used ground breaking techniques, and working closely with our partners in the Public Prosecution Service, Stephen McKinney was found guilty of the murder of his wife and sentenced today.

“I know today’s sentencing will never bring Lu Na back, however I hope this outcome brings some sort of comfort to her family. 

“Stephen McKinney thought he had silenced Lu Na. He hadn’t - police spoke for her and found justice.” 

Trapped

Detective Superintendent Corrigan went on to make a specific appeal to anyone who feels trapped in an abusive relationship.

“Domestic abuse is a terrifying and impactful crime and very often people who are being abused feel isolated, vulnerable and frightened and don’t know where to turn," he said. "Please know that help is available. You can contact us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“We are here to help you and we will robustly investigate all allegations of abuse and fully support you through the criminal justice process.  Please be assured that you can come forward in confidence and speak to detectives who will treat you with sensitivity and respect.

“A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is also available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual abuse, now or in the past, the number for which is 0808 802 1414.

“And we are not the only organisation that can help. Women’s Aid; Rainbow Project, Men’s Advisory Project, Men’s Alliance and other support services also offer a wide range of help and advice –  You can find more information online at; https://www.psni.police.uk/crime/domestic-abuse/who-can-help-me/, 

Domestic Violence Support in Donegal

In Donegal, anyone who is experiencing domestic violence can contact gardaí on 999 or 112, or through any garda station.

The district garda headquarters are:

Letterkenny - 074 9167100
Buncrana - 074 9320540
Milford - 074 9153060
Ballyshannon - 071 9858530

The Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) is available at any time and can be contacted at any time on 087 0681964.

Donegal Rape Crisis Centre: National 24-hour helpline 1800 778888, supporting anyone affected by sexual violence aged 14+

The Donegal Domestic Violence Service helpline number is 1800 262 677. This is also a 24-hour helpline. 

Men's Aid Ireland formerly ‘AMEN’ offer help and support to male victims of domestic abuse. National Confidential Helpline 01-554 3811 or email hello@mensaid.ie

Most of the above services can also be contacted via Facebook.

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