The trial of 43-year-old father of two Stephen McKinney, accused of murdering his wife during a boating holiday on Fermanagh's Lower Lough Erne nearly three years ago, has had to be aborted because of the coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday morning, trial judge, Madam Justice McBride, who described the situation as "an unprecedented emergency", said that "social distancing clearly has serious implications in this trial".

Her Ladyship added that two members of the Dungannon Crown Court jury of seven men and five women had already been in touch with the court to say that they are considered medically to be "in the vulnerable group".

Madam Justice McBride said given that the trial had sometime to go, and in light of government recommendations, and in consultation with the Lord Chief Justice: "I consider this trial cannot realistically proceed and I am going to discharge this jury".

The jury, who had been told not to attend court on Wednesday, March 18, had been expecting to hear evidence from more witnesses in the trial, which was expected to last at least several more weeks.

The trial, with a new jury will proceed in the future, but as yet when that will be is uncertain at this time.

Mr. McKinney, originally from Strabane, but who lived with his 35-year-old wife Lu Na and children in Flaxfield, Convoy Co. Donegal, now has an address in Castletown Square, Fintona, Co. Tyrone, was released on continuing bail.

The dismissal of the jury comes in the wake of statements on the running of the courts in light of the pandemic from both the Office of the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, and from the Northern Ireland Bar Association, representing lawyers and QCs.

The LCJ has already announced the suspension of any new criminal jury trials from, "March 18 2020 until further notice". It was also reported that the Chief Justice had also advised "Crown Court judges on what to do if a serving juror indicates they are experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19".

In the statement issued on behalf of CBA chairman Gavin Duffy QC, it said "no members should attend Court for the next two weeks (March 18 to April 1) unless the case qualified as an emergency .... An ongoing trial (subject to the review by the Court)".