The trial of a man who had been living in Donegal accused of murdering his wife during a boating holiday on Lough Erne has been abandoned due to the impact of coronavirus.

Stephen McKinney, 43, who had been living in Convoy at the time fo the alleged incident, denies murdering Lu Na McKinney.

He says the 35-year-old drowned in a tragic accident at Devenish Island after hiring a cruiser in April 2017.

The jury at Dungannon Crown Court had been due to hear evidence from a number of witnesses today.

However, they were told not to attend.

Judge Madam Justice McBride described it as “a time of unprecedented emergency”.

She said social distancing “clearly has serious implications for this trial” and two members of the jury had advised the court they are in the vulnerable group.

The judge said in light of government advice and in discussion with the lord chief justice the trial “realistically cannot proceed”.

The BBC reports that Judge McBride advised the legal teams: “In these circumstances I will discharge the jury.”

On Monday, it was announced there would be no new jury trials in Northern Ireland from 18 March until further notice, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Office of the Lord Chief Justice had advised jurors currently serving on a jury in a crown court trial or an inquest to continue to attend.

Mr McKinney was released on continuing bail.

A date for a new trial has yet to be fixed.


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