Tuesday 19 September 2017

Sexual predator gets life for murder of pregnant mum

Stephen Cahoon
Murdered: Jean Quigley. Photo: PA
Jean Quigley's mother Emma McBride. Photo: PA

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack

A 39-YEAR-OLD man found guilty of the murder of a woman pregnant with his child is a dangerous sexual predator with a history of violence against women, detectives have said.

Stephen Cahoon (pictured), 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 today in Dublin.

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

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 Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said the conviction demonstrates how the law can be used to bring to justice to 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.

"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 fell pregnant. The couple split up and weeks before her death Ms Quigley told her killer 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 the lives of Ms Quigley's children - Dylan, Jordan, Cole and Chanice - have been turned upside down.

There has been a considerable change in their personalities and behaviour and they do not understand why their mother is not coming home again, the court heard.

Fridays used to be "mammy night", but had become "granny's night".

"She is no substitute for their mother," the statement added.

Ms McBride revealed the sight of Ms Quigley's bruised and battered dead body has left her with nightmares.

"The very thought of Jean leaves her crying," barristers continued.

"It has been very hard."

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

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.

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