Two men charged accused of leading riots in Londonderry on the night a journalist was shot and killed have refused to stand in court.
Paul McIntyre, 51, from the Creggan area of the city, and Christopher Gillen, 38, from Balbane Pass, have been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and arson of hijacked vehicles.
Both men, who were arrested on Thursday, appeared together in front of District Judge Barney Mcelholm, but refused to stand and recognise the court when called on Saturday morning.
The prosecution alleges that both men are connected to the paramilitary group the New IRA, who orchestrated a night of rioting on April 18 in the Creggan area of the city.
The New IRA have since claimed responsibility for the death of Lyra McKee in a letter released to media.
Paul McIntryre (left) and Christopher Gillen (right) have both been charged with rioting
Petrol bombs were thrown at police, an a car was engulfed in flames during the unrest in Londonderry
A PSNI detective told the court that footage seized from an MTV documentary crew who, along with presenter Reggie Yates, were filming in the city on April 18, provided police with the evidence they allege links both men to the charges.
The PSNI say footage from MTV taken in the Saoradh office, located in Junior McDaid House, shows both men clearly and speaking in the company with other Saoradh members.
Lyra McKee (pictured above) was shot dead in Londonderry
The police also claim footage taken from CCTV and mobile phones, later supplied to police by witnesses, shows two masked men in identical clothing and footwear to the defendants exiting the hijacked tipper truck and later carrying a crate of petrol bombs along Fanad Drive, and later deploying them at police.
The detective added: ‘Police believe these were the ring leaders, that’s obvious from footage.’
The officer added he had concerns that both men may attempt to interfere with or intimidate witnesses, or attempt to leave the country if they received bail.
In the weeks following Ms McKee’s murder, graffiti was sprayed in Creggan warning the community against helping police with their enquiries.
The message ‘Informers will be executed’ was painted along the wall of a local community centre, and posters of rats were erected on local speed signs.
Judge Mcelholm told the court that he also had concerns about witnesses being prevented from coming forward.
Lyra McKee died after shots were fired at police officers in Londonderry
The murder of journalist Lyra McKee (pictured above) sparked major police investigation amid huge public outrage
‘We’re all aware of the disgraceful graffiti in Creggan that warned off anyone talking to police, whoever did that, did these two men a great disservice,’ he said.
‘I’d be inclined to agree with Father Joe Gormley (local priest who annointed Ms McKee after her death), in what happens when you get people who are blinded by ideology.
‘All nationalism corrupts into fascism eventually whether it’s Irish nationalism or British or Polish nationalism. We’ve all seen where it ends up.
‘I have to bear in mind these gentlemen, there’s no evidence either of them belong to any paramilitary organisation but they are a part of an organisation with a defined ideology.
Scores of people were pictured watching the unrest from a police lines as other threw things at police
‘There is no address anywhere in this city which would be suitable in this case, at any stage. I will refuse bail.’
The murder of Ms McKee has sparked a major police investigation, amid huge public outrage.
On the afternoon of April 18, after a police search of a residence in the Creggan area, a riot broke out which saw missiles including petrol bombs thrown at police officers, before a Ford Transit Tipper was set alight.
Amid the unrest, a masked gunman fired shots in the direction of police and struck 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee, who later died in hospital.
Police say more than 140 people have come forward with mobile phone or social media footage and a £10,000 reward has been offered by charity Crimestoppers for anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the death of Ms McKee.