Friday 20 October 2017

Man murdered pregnant ex-girlfriend

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack

A 39-YEAR-OLD man found guilty of murdering a woman pregnant with his child is a dangerous sexual predator with a history of violence against women, detectives revealed yesterday.

Stephen Cahoon -- who admitted killing Jean Quigley at her home in Cornshell Fields in Derry on July 26, 2008, but denied murder -- is facing life in prison after being convicted in Dublin yesterday.

Gardai who investigated the murder described Ms Quigley as a bright and bubbly 30-year-old mother of four who was expecting her fifth child.

Detectives revealed Cahoon had two previous convictions and was jailed for assaulting and threatening to kill a former partner and indecently assaulting another woman.

The case made legal history as it is the first time a defendant has been tried in the Republic under the Criminal Justice Jurisdiction Act 1976 for a non-terrorist crime committed in the North.

The PSNI said the conviction demonstrated how the law could be used to bring to justice perpetrators of serious crimes, no matter where.

"Stephen Cahoon is one such individual. He is a dangerous sexual predator with a history of violence against women. He deserves to stay behind bars for a very long time," the PSNI said.

Pain

"But our thoughts today should be with Jean Quigley's children and her family circle. We hope that, in time, today's outcome will go some small way to bring comfort to them for the loss and pain which they have suffered."

Cahoon was found guilty by unanimous decision by a jury in the Dublin Central Criminal Court.

He had been put up for re-trial after a separate jury failed to reach a verdict in July 2009.

Ms Quigley was found by her mother Emma McBride, naked, badly bruised and strangled to death.

Cahoon, of Harvey Street in Derry, went on the run over the Border after the killing and 10 days later was arrested by gardai in Donegal.

He started a brief but intense relationship with Ms Quigley in March 2008 but that deteriorated when she became pregnant. The couple split up and weeks before her death Ms Quigley told him she wanted him out of her life.

Cahoon, who maintained he was provoked into attacking his ex -- who was two months pregnant with his baby -- said he snapped after she told him the baby was not his and that she would have an abortion.

The court was told he did not call an ambulance or the police because he hoped she was still alive.

Members of the Quigley family shouted, "cheerio, you f****** scumbag" as Cahoon was led away by prison guards.

They had cried as their victim-impact statements were read in court by barristers, who revealed that the lives of Ms Quigley's children -- Dylan, Jordan, Cole and Chanice -- have been turned upside down.

There had been a considerable change in their personalities and behaviour and they did not understand why their mother was not coming home again, the court heard.

Ms McBride revealed the sight of her daughter's bruised and battered body had left her with nightmares.

"The very thought of Jean leaves her crying," barristers continued. "It has been very hard."

Mr Justice Barry White told Cahoon he was a danger to society, particularly women.

"Had the verdict of this jury been one of manslaughter, given your previous offensive behaviour towards women it appears you are a danger to society in general and women in particular, I would have had to give serious consideration to imposing a life sentence," he added.

The court heard yesterday that Cahoon had previous convictions for violent crimes against women.

Detective Garda John Breslin said that he indecently assaulted a complete stranger in Ballymena, Co Antrim, in 1997.

The Crown Prosecution Service appealed the three-year sentence and it was increased to four years.

Det Gda Breslin said Cahoon was also convicted of threatening to kill a previous partner and 12 counts of assault causing her actual bodily harm in the same year.

Irish Independent

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