McClenaghan GUILTY of Marion’s murder

Guilty:  Fred McClenaghan.' Photo Pacemaker Press
Guilty: Fred McClenaghan.' Photo Pacemaker Press
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For the second time in just over two years, Freddie McClenaghan was convicted today and jailed for life for murdering his former lover Marion Millican for ending their relationship.

It took the Antrim Crown Court jury of six men and five women just 75 minutes, five minutes less than last time, to find that when consumed with jealous anger he intentionally blasted her in the chest with an antique shotgun in the launderette where she worked in Portstewart in March 2011.

While the 52-year-old father of two from Broad Street, Magherafelt, showed no emotion at the verdict, in the public gallery just behind him, there were muted cheers and clapping from Mrs Millican family and friends.

Among them were her daughter Suzanne and estranged husband Ken who left the court, not wanting to comment on the verdict at this time.

Then as McClenaghan was led off to prison for this second time, the emotion of the occasion got to some in the gallery who cursed at and told him: “you took our Marion and we won’t forget it”.

By their verdict the jury clearly rejected McClenaghan’s admission, as had the prosecution, that he was guilty only of manslaughter, and his claims that his ex-partner’s death was an ‘horrific accident’.

Throughout the case, the prosecution have always rejected his explanation for the events of that terrible day, inisting that it was “murder pure and simple”, and the jury agreed with them.

McClenaghan, who refused to give evidence on his own behalf, had claimed in a statement to police that he had gone to the launderette to kill himself in front of the mum of four, but the shotgun went off after a struggle.

During his 27 day trial at Belfast Laganside courthouse the jury heard that McClenaghan repeatedly told counsellors of his wishes and dreams of wanting to kill himself and his ex-girlfriend.

At his original trial in 2012, the court also heard that in his rage a rejected McClenaghan had also vowed, if he could not have her, then nobody would.

She had ended their relationship just three months earlier following several eposides of domestic violence. On one occasion he broke her tooth. On another he punched her unconscious. The final straw came just before Christmas 2010 when he attempted to strangle her.

In the intervening months before her death, the court also heard that Marion and her estranged husband had began to rekindle their 34 year marriage.

When McClenaghan was originally sentenced back in September 2012, following his conviction two months earlier, he was given a minimum sentence of 16 years he must serve before he could even be considered for release.

While it is open to Mr Justice Treacy to simply confirm that sentence, he is in no way restricted, nor are his hands tied, as to the eventual tariff he imposes. The sentence could be reduced in time, but then again it could also be increased.

However it will be at least another four weeks before that day of judgement falls for McClenaghan after the completion of pre-sentence and other reports on the self confessed killer, and now second-time convicted murderer.