Wednesday 13 December 2017

Man (43) found guilty of murder for the second time in six years

Stephen Cahoon, who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant girfriend Jean Teresa Quigley
Stephen Cahoon, who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant girfriend Jean Teresa Quigley
Jean Teresa Quigley was found naked and bruised at her home

Alison O'Riordan

Derry man Stephen Cahoon has been found guilty of murdering pregnant mother-of-four Jean Teresa Quigley for the second time in six years.

Cahoon (43), with a last address at Harvey Street in Derry city, admitted strangling his ex-girlfriend Ms Quigley (30), who was 10-weeks pregnant with his child at the time, but had denied it was murder.

This was Cahoon's third trial for murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

In his first Central Criminal Court trial a hung jury failed to reach a verdict.

On April 30 2012, a jury unanimously found him guilty of murder at the Central Criminal Court and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

To date, he has served close to ten years in prison.

However, in March of this year, the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction due to an error in the judge's instructions to the jury, ordered a retrial and remanded him in custody.

Cahoon, an unemployed labourer, successfully appealed his conviction on the basis that the trial judge had misdirected the jury while explaining the defence of provocation.

Yesterday, a Central Criminal Court jury found Cahoon guilty by unanimous verdict of murdering Ms Quigley at Cornshell fields in Derry on July 26, 2008.

The jury heard that Ms Quigley's naked and bruised body was discovered at her home by her mother, Ms Emma McBride.

Cahoon, who gave direct evidence at the trial, had told the jury that he "handcuffed" Ms Quigley's hand to her bed and "taped" her other hand to the other side of the headboard before having sex.

Afterwards Cahoon said he saw "red" when Ms Quigley told him the baby was not his and so he "grabbed and pushed" her and put his "hand on her throat".

However prosecution counsel, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, told the jury that that there was evidence of "violence from beginning to end" at the scene.

He said there was evidence that Ms Quigley's door had been "broken in" and there were defensive injuries and bruising to Ms Quigley's arms, scalp and head, which was "utterly inconsistent" with the version of events given by Stephen Cahoon.

Mr Marrinan said Cahoon had 12 'assault causing harm convictions' on a previous partner between 1997 and 1998, as well as threatening to kill her.

The court heard he also had other convictions for assault.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy sentenced Cahoon to life imprisonment and backdated it to the date of his arrest on August 5, 2008.

Cahoon was charged under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976 and opted for trial in the Republic.

He became the first person to be tried for murder in the Republic which had been committed in Northern Ireland.

The court heard travelling to Dublin has caused the family a good deal of stress.

Ms Quigley's death has had a profound impact on her children who have had their "lives turned upside down".

"They still do not understand that their mammy is never coming home again," the court heard.

Irish Independent

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