Through muted cheers and clapping, for the second time in just over two years, Freddie McClenaghan was convicted and jailed for life for murdering his former lover Marion Millican for ending their relationship..
While the 52-year-old father of two from Broad Street, Magherafelt, showed no emotion at the verdict, one member of the family shouted : ““You took our Marion and we won’t forget it.”
Mrs Millican’s daughter Suzanne remained dignified, her hands clasped and head bowed after the verdict was delivered.
Suzanne and family members, including Mrs Millican’s husband Ken had waited three-and-a-half years for justice. They sat through three trials and an appeal of the case against Mrs Millican’s murderer.
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.
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.
Marion’s friend, Pamela Henry, who was in the laundrette that fateful day, says she feels lucky to be alive.
She said McClenaghan came in like a madman: “He walked in that door with a gun underneath his arm with the intention of shooting Marion and that’s what he did.
“He knew that he was going to shoot her and he did.
“I just thought that the both of us was going to get it. He was just not having anything at all. I was glad to get out, be alive,” she told the BBC.
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.
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.