Murder trial told firm at fault over life jackets

The company that hired a boat to a man later accused of murdering his wife was at ‘fault’ for the shortage of life jackets on board, a trial has heard.

Lu Na McKinney, a mother of two, died on a family boating holiday at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, in April 2017. Stephen McKinney denies murder.

The boat was hired from Manor House Marine and under questioning, its director admitted the correct checks or paperwork had not been completed, according to the BBC.

The family had hired a cruiser for a three-night holiday in 2017.

One of the directors confirmed to the court there were two adult-sized life jackets on the cruiser hired to the McKinney family, but no children’s life jackets. The couple’s two children were sent to the marina office to be fitted with life jackets.

“He [the sailing instructor] told me he had sent up to the office for two children’s life jackets but didn’t check if that had been done. He assumed the office would have fitted them,” the director said.

The defence lawyer asked: “Why didn’t you tell police the instructor had messed up and there were only two life jackets on board?”

The director replied the police were aware of the life jacket situation, adding “I don’t know why you are asking this.”

The defence lawyer responded: “Because Mr McKinney has been interviewed by police who have put it to him that this was all part of his cunning plan to kill his wife, by not taking the life jackets.

“That this was all part of grand scheme to kill his wife. But it was in fact Manor House Marine’s fault the life jackets weren’t onboard, two of which being suitable for children.”

The director accepted the instructor should have checked the life jackets. The trial is expected to last 10 weeks.

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