Saturday 24 August 2019

Murder accused likely father of unborn child of woman who died due to 'manual strangulation', trial hears

Stephen Cahoon (42) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Quigley
Stephen Cahoon (42) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Quigley

Anne Sharkey

A murder trial jury has heard that the accused man was likely to be the father of the unborn child of a woman who died due to "manual strangulation".

Stephen Cahoon (43) with an address at Harvey Street, Derry, Norhtern Ireland, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Jean Teresa Quigley (30) at Cornshell Fields in Derry on July 26th, 2008.

Taking the stand at the Central Criminal Court today, State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, Professor Jack Crane told Mr Patrick Marinan, SC prosecuting, that  he had visited the scene at Cornshell Fields on July 28.

"I noted the body of a woman lying on her left side with her face resting on bloodstained duvet," he said.

"She (Ms Quigley) was naked apart from a pair of socks - her feet were towards headboard," he continued.

"There was bloodstain fluid from the mouth and her face was reddish purple in colour,  much more than you would normally expect," he said.

After the body was taken to the mortuary, Professor Crane carried out an internal examination on the deceased.

"The body was that of a middle aged woman of good build and five foot, four inches in height," he said.

"There were haemorrhages on the temple, right cheek and skin behind the right ear - there was puffy swelling on both upper eyelids," he said.

He added: "There was watery blood stained fluid in the nostrils and the mouth contained copious amounts of blood stained fluid".

"There was purple discolouration on the front and back of the body. Bruising is indicative of some sort of blunt force being applied," he said.

"On the right side of the neck, the skin was pale and there was an abrasion to the right of the voice box which is sometimes seen where a fingernail has been pressed against the skin," he continued.

"There was an area of indistinct bruising and a light petechial pattern that was six by five centimetres on the right side of the front of the chest, mainly above the breast," he said.

Professor Crane described an area of "definite bruising" that was six by three centimetres on the left side of the abdomen.

Some bruises found on the arm were said to be those often seen if an arm is raised in defence.

"Bruises are not serious injuries in themselves. There are quite a large number of them that are consistent with trivial knocks or falls - some are consistent with arms being used in a defensive gesture," he said.

"When one looks at the outside of the scalp, there is bruising behind the left ear and above, which is an indication of two separate impacts to the head," he continued.  

"An examination of the uterus showed it to be enlarged. It contained a male embryo weighing four grammes - at the time of this womans death, she was about 10 weeks pregnant," he said.

He concluded: "She was healthy apart from having some stones in her gall bladder.

The neck injuries were consistent with congestion of the skin and of the face."

"Taken in their totality, the injuries to the neck indicate forcible compression of the neck by a hand or hands, that would be sufficient to interfere with breathing resulting in death".

"Injuries, although non-specific, could have been caused by blows - possible punches and kicks," he said.

"Death was due to a manual strangulation," he said.

Under cross examination by defending counsel, Michael O'Higgins, Professor Crane said that he was "not convinced" that bruising could have been caused by performing CPR.

Taking to the stand, Forensic Scientist, Matthew James Greenhalgh told Mr Marinan that he carried out a paternity test to determine whether or not the accused was the father of the unborn child.

"I was asked to carry out DNA samples to examine whether Stephen Cahoon could be the father," he said.

"We were looking at characteristics from the foetus sample. I performed calculations and it is 6000 times more likely that Stephen Cahoon was the father - there is strong scientific support of this," he concluded.

Following a request from a jury member to leave, Miss Justice Deirdre Murphy excused the jury for the day saying "I understand one of you is unwell".

The trial continues tomorrow before a jury of eight men and four women and is expected to last two weeks.

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