THE estranged husband of Portstewart launderette murder victim Marion Millican has told a jury of the moment he cradled her in his arms to see if she was still alive.
Kenneth Millican was giving evidence at the trial of his wife’s self-confessed killer, and former lover, Freddie McClenaghan 52, of Broad Street, Magherafelt. He denies murdering the 51-year-old mum of four, but has admitted her manslaughter.
McClenaghan claims he accidentally blasted Mrs Millican in the chest with a shotgun, during a botched suicide attempt around lunch hour on Friday, March 11, 2011.
Mr Millican, who also told Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, of the couple’s plans to patching up their marriage, said that he got a phone call around 1.30pm that day from Pamela Henry, who worked with her in the launderette.
The witness told the jury of seven men and five women: “Pamela was very hysterical, crying and shouting. She said to me: ‘Ken, Ken, get down here. Freddie’s got a gun and he’s going to shoot Marion’.”
“I said to her: ‘Ring the police and I would be straight down”.
Mr Millican said he jumped into his car and followed closely behind a police car with its blue lights and sirens on as it travelled at speed to the seaside town.
“I went into the launderette and saw Marion lying directly in front of me, half-way down. I thought she was unconscious and I tried to feel her pulse. There was no pulse.
“I put her head in my arms and brought her lips up to my cheek to see if I could feel her breathing but I couldn’t feel her breath on my cheek.
“I felt heat on my arm. I looked down and saw it was blood, but I couldn’t see where it was coming from.
“I pulled up Marion’s top to her stomach but I couldn’t see any blood. I then pulled it up to bra line and saw a mass of blood.
“I was on my knees sitting down by her head...when I came in Marion was lying on her side. I lifted her up into my arms and held her,” said Mr Millican, who added that Thomas Henry, the husband of Pamela Henry, took him outside when paramadics arrived.
Earlier he told prosecution lawyer Neil Connor that after 35 years of marriage, it began to tail off, and that Marion eventually moved out of the family home in 2009 following an “amicable split’.
In late 2009 he suspected she was seeing someone else but despite her initial denials, he discovered she was in a relationship with Freddie McClenaghan. However late the follwoing year it had ended and by New Year’s Eve, they decided to “give our marriage another go.”
Mr Millican said that whilst estranged from his wife, he’d noticed a change in her. He also revealed that he subsequently learned that McClenaghan had beaten her, once knocking her unconscious.
On another occasion he’d atempted to strangle her, telling her: “You belong to me now and nobody else”.
Under cross examination by defence QC John McCrudden, he confirmed he was also aware that his ex-wife was attacked by an unnamed assailant, not once, but twice, and that the windows of her home were smashed.
However, he said he was unaware that she had receiving threatening phonecalls.
Earlier Thomas Henry, said he’d known Mrs Millican, who worked along with his wife Pamela, for about four to five years, and that he noticed how she changed while in a relationship with the defendant.
Mr Henry said that on the day of the murder his wife phoned him. she was “crying and upset”, and on hearing what she said, he rang for the police.
He had gone into the laundrette with one of his wife’s friends, Gillian Thompson, whom he had met nearby. She had just called to speak to her friends while out walking her dog.
She told the court that she initally she found the door to the laundrette, ‘slightly ajar’ and had called out ‘hello, hello’, before walking in. On seeing Marion’s body, she just, “backed out again and ran down the alleyway”.
Mrs Thompson said she then returned to the bloody scene with Mr Henry. He reported that as they walked through the door, they saw “Marion lying towards the back of the building.
“I checked for a pulse and could not find one,” he added. He then went in search of police, and found a policewoman who had been misdirected to the wrong laundry.
Inside they found Marion, her body face down, her right arm outstretched. Mr Millican arrived a short time later, and he “tried to turn Marion over and speak to her, but there was no answer”.
Mrs Millican’s employer Sandra Moss told the jury about talking to Mrs Millican in the launderette in the run up to Christmas 2010.
“I asked her how her weekend had gone and she said she didn’t have a great weekend. She was wearing a polo neck jumper and she pulled it down. I was shocked.”
Mrs Moss said Marion’s neck was very badly bruised and it “looked as if she had been strangled...and said that Freddie had done thast to her, and that she would never see Freddie again...I was delighted when she told me that”.
The trial continues.