Jess Lowe

A man has been jailed for seven years for possessing the gun that was used to kill Irish journalist Lyra McKee.

Niall Sheerin previously admitted he was in possession of the firearm between September 2018 and June 2020.

McKee was shot dead whilst she watched a riot in Londonderry on 18 April 2019.

Sheerin was sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by five years on licence.

The judge Belfast Crown Court believed Sheerin was an associate of a terror gang “who posed a danger to the public.”

However, the 29-year-old suspect was not arrested in connection with the murder.

He was sentenced due to the history of the firearm, which has been involved in a number of serious incidents.

Sheerin has been charged for possessing a pistol, a magazine, and a number of gun cartridges.

In 2020, the gun was found wrapped in plastic bags behind a telegraph pole in Derry.

Ballistics tests confirmed that the pistol had been used in five shootings across the city in the previous two years, including the killing of McKee.

The journalist’s sister, Nichola McKee-Corner, told the BBC outside of court: “Now the story of the gun has come to an end but the story of the gunman actually continues.”

She added that the gunman should have “the courage to come forward himself and accept responsibility for what he did”.

She concluded that it is unlikely to happen at this stage of the investigation.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland have confirmed the investigation into Lyra McKee’s death is “very much active.”

Three men are awaiting trial in connection with her murder.