The trial of father of two Stephen McKinney accused of killing his wife during a family boating holiday on Fermanagh's Lower Lough Erne five years ago, today (Friday) heard recordings of his emergency 999 calls.

At times the two recordings lasting over 40 minutes, were almost inaudible, hard to make out as an almost breathless Mr. McKinney was heard panting, crying and breathing heavily as he repeatedly pleaded for help over his mobile phone.

The recordings were played to the jury of eight men and four women at the Dungannon Crown Court where 44-year-old Mr. McKinney, originally from Strabane, but living with his 35-year-old wife Lu Na in Convoy, Donegal, but now with an address in Castletown Square, Fintona, Tyrone, denies murder.

However, while the jury were able to observe Mr McKinney's demeanour during the recordings those reporters covering the case were unable to do so watching the case remotely on computer, prevented as they are, from physically being present in court given the current Covid restrictions.

The two automatically taped emergency calls were made shortly after 1am on April 13, 2017 from the jetty at Devenish Island where they'd moored the Manor House cruiser they'd hired for the boating holiday to celebrate the couple's up and coming 14th wedding anniversary.

The initial call began with a panting, almost breathless Mr. McKinney telling the female emergency call handler in a rasping voice:"My wife fell in the lake .... I'm on Devenish, Devenish Island on lough".

The operator seemed not to hear or understand Mr. McKinney, and asked if he could hear her, as he repeatedly complained of being cold as he explained he could not see his wife and that he'd jumped into the water in a bid to rescue her.

"I can't see her and she fell in and I jumped in to try and get her and I can't see her," he was heard on the tape crying and pleading: "Please, please, please, please.... please get someone here quickly please please please, I can't ... she got in... I can't see her.. I can't see her".

Throughout he is heard shivering panting and on occasions crying down the phone complaining that he was "so cold ... I'm so cold", before shortly afterwards the call is cut short. Moments later the call is reconnected, this time with a male call handler.

Mr. McKinney told the operator his phone had stopped working and repeated his plea for help as his .... "wife.. my wife, my wife just fell into the water and I can't see her..." as he also revealed she was not wearing a life jacket as he had given them to their two children.

Again Mr. McKinney goes through what had occurred, that the family were moored at Devenish Island that his wife fell in the water after arguing the cruiser was moving as she felt the mooriing ropes weren't secure.

He said he said he jumped into the water after her and claimed he'd gotten a hold of her, but that she had kept pulling him down, and then he lost sight of her. He also threatened to jump back into the lake in a further attempt to find her.

"I need to get into the water... I need to get back into the water ... I need to find her ... I need to get back into the water," he told the operator, only to be firmly instructed to remain on board for the sake of their two children.

But at times Mr McKinney repeated he needed "to get back into the water ... I need to be going back into the water ... oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God".

"Please, please, please, just come quickly, please, I can't see her, I don't see her," he said as the call handler told him to get something to wrap up warm.

While being told, "you're the only adult there and you need to remain calm" for his children, again and again, the Tyrone man said he needed "to get my wife, I need to get my wife .... I need to go and get my Lu Na ... I need to get back in and get Lu Na, I need to get Lu Na".

Asked how long his wife was in the water, Mr. McKinney said he didn't know, but thought it could be "maybe ten minutes ..... she slipped away from me". Complaining he didn't know "what to do", he was told by the operator: "You have done as much as you can".

At one stage he claimed he heard " banging on the boat ... I hear somebody... I think it could be Lu Na .... I hear banging".

But then he repeated that he couldn't see anyone ... "there's nobody here", before telling the operator that he was "ok", only to repeat: "I just need to find LuNa, I need to get Lu Na, I need to get Lu Na".

Mr. McKinney could be heard on the tape telling of his attempts to save his wife he described as "35... she's very young".

"I was in the water I was trying to pull her up ... I got a hold of her, but she was pulling me down," he said, describing several times how he "got a hold of her" and that "she got a hold of me and I tried to pull her up but she pulled me down", as he fought to hang on to her by her coat with one hand and on to the boat with his other.

"I shouldn't have let her go," he was heard saying, and that he wanted to get back into the water.

Eventually as the police boat arrive, Mr. McKinney is heard on the tape, mumbling, rambling almost: "I see her, I see her .... I don't know, I don't know ... I don't know".

At hearing.