Court hears Coleraine mum knew she was facing death

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Mum-of-four Marion Millican knew she was facing death at the hands of her former lover Fred McClenaghan, a court heard on Thursday.

The claim was made by a friend and workmate of 51-year-old Marion, during a taped police interview played to McClenaghan’s Antrim Crown Court trial in Belfast where he admits killing her, but denies her murder.

In the hours following the shooting on March 11, 2011, Mrs Pamela Henry told how she made a terrified dash for freedom leaving her ashen faced friend in the clutches of an “mad, mad, violent” McClenaghan, then aged 49.

McClenaghan, now aged 52, from Broad Street, Magherafelt, whose guilty plea to manslaughter has been rejected by the prosecution, later claimed he accidently shot his former lover during a botched suicide attempt.

Mrs Henry said that as she made a run for the door she looked back to see “poor wee Marion her face was so white ...she knew, she knew”. Either way she said she would “never forget” the look on her friend’s face.

“I just wanted out ... I felt so sorry leaving her, but there was nothing I could do ... I couldn’t attempt to bring her with me,” Mrs Henry explained on tape, adding that Marion was “afraid, scared, I saw it in on her face”.

However she also claimed Marion had winked and nodded to her, and agreed with police that it appeared as if her friend was telling her to get out.

Mrs Henry said their ordeal began when the pair of them heard someone at the door and Marion got up to see, and whisped back: “you’re not going to believe who it is ... and before I knew it he was on top of the two of us”.

Armed with a shotgun McClenaghan, grabbed Marion by the arm telling her: you’re coming with me. We have to talk”. Time and again Mrs Henry described McClenaghan as being, “in a violent mood, a mad man, a man who was meaning business”.

McClenaghan also accused his former lover of having ignored him, however, Marion refused to go with him, pleading that her boss would soon return and that it was best if they just talked in the shop.

Mrs Henry further claimed that her friend was also “trying to calm him down, but he wasn’t having any of it”.

She also said at first when she saw the shotgun slung under his arm, she thought it was “for a joke”, but then McClenaghan fired a shot, blasting a hole in the kitchen floor between the two women.

Mrs Henry said at this point she had to get out and “flew to the toilet” and bolted the door, only for McClenaghan to smash it open. He tried to snatch her mobile phone from her.

He failed, and in the confusion she managed to make good her escape and run to a nearby shop where she stopped a couple who raised the alarm.

Mrs Henry also told police that the previous December Marion had come into work one Monday morning with bruising to her neck.

She claimed that a teraful Marion had told her that McClenaghan, “an awful man for drink”, had “tried to strangle her”.

While Mrs Henry said she never saw any other marks on her friend, following her break-up with McClenaghan, he would often leave meassages on their works’ phone which Marion ignored.

She also ignored a letter he had posted through her postbox. The letter, which remained unopened, said Mrs Henry, was put in a wicker basket in Marion’s kitchen.

Later under cross exmaination by defence QC John McCrudden, Mrs Henry agreed that she had been left traumatised and shocked by what had been a terrifying event.

She also agreed that she had repeatedly described McClenaghan as being, ‘mad, mad, mad’ and that she had never seen him looking like this before.

Mrs Henry said when he came in “he was really agressive, meaning business, and knowing what he was going to do”, and that throughout her ordeal she was “in fear” of her life and “was terrified” she would be killed.

However, she also agreed that while she had told police that it had lasted for about 20 minutes, in reality, the whole eposide lasted only about three minutes, and she had been wrong in her estimation, given her “confusion and shock”.