A man has pleaded guilty to possession of the pistol that killed queer journalist Lyra McKee.
Derry resident Niall Sheerin, 29, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing the firearm used to shoot and kill McKee during the 2019 riots in Derry, Northern Ireland, according to the Guardian.
McKee had been working as an independent reporter covering the violence.
Sheerin admitted to authorities that he had the gun from September 2018 until June 2020.
McKee was shot dead on April 18, 2019, while reporting on the riots in the Creggan area of Derry.
The pistol used in the shooting was later found abandoned in plastic bags behind a telephone pole, the BBC reports. Ballistics testing revealed the same gun was used in five separate shootings within the past two years, McKee's being the latest.
The New Irish Republican Army later took responsibility for McKee's death, saying that they deployed their militia members in response to British forces in the area. As the majority of their organization are combat-inexperienced volunteers, Mckee was killed in the crossfire when standing near "enemy forces."
The Irish Times reported at the time that the New IRA said in a statement: "In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces. The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."
Sheerin was one of four men previously arrested in connection to McKee's death earlier this year, though authorities have yet to charge any with her murder. The overseeing judge of McKee's case, Justice Fowler, could not sentence Sheerin in connection to her killing, as the "prosecution cannot establish to the requisite standard" that Sheerin definitively fired the gun.
Prosecutors accused Sheerin of storing the weapon on behalf of the New IRA, but were unable to prove he was aware of the gun's history. When handing down his ruling, Fowler deemed Sheerin to be a member of a "serious terrorist gang who posed a danger to the public," the BBC reports.
Nichola McKee-Corner, sister of Lyra McKee, spoke after the hearing to issue another plea to those responsible.
"Now the story of the gun has come to an end but the story of the gunman actually continues," she said."We would again appeal to anyone who has information on the identity of the gunman to come forward and ensure there is justice for Lyra."