Family grieving over mum-to-be’s murder

Published Monday, 30 April 2012
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The family of a pregnant woman murdered by her violent ex-boyfriend has spoken of their pain on the day that Stephen Cahoon was given a life sentence.

Family grieving over mum-to-be’s murder
Ms Quigley was found by her mother, badly bruised and strangled to death. (© PSNI)

Jean Quigley, who was pregnant with her fifth child, was found dead at her home at Cornshell Fields in the Shantallow area of Derry on 26 July, 2008.

Police said Jean had "suffered a horrendous death at Cahoon's hands" after she told him she wanted to end their brief relationship and she was going to abort their unborn child.

Stephen Cahoon, 39, was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence at court in Dublin on Monday.

Had the verdict of this jury been one of manslaughter - given your previous offensive behaviour towards women, it appears you are a danger to society in general and women in particular - I would have had to give serious consideration to imposing a life sentence.

Mr Justice Barry White

Jean's mother Emma McBride was devastated to find her 30-year-old daughter's body, but welcomed Monday's sentence.

"It's never going to bring Jean back, but at least now I know she didn't die in vain," she explained.

"To see him getting what he deserves, it's a relief, but at the same time now I can grieve."

Cahoon, from Harvey Street in Derry, fled across the border after he killed Jean and was arrested by gardaí in Donegal town 10 days later.

Jean's brother Gerald said: "People like Stephen Cahoon need to be on a register much much sooner so that people are aware who the criminals out there are that can cause this kind of hurt and pain, so that people like Jean would have known to stay away from them."

Cahoon had a violent history and Jean Quigley was just his latest victim. Her family said he went by a number of different names and "nobody ever put two and two together".

Police described Cahoon as a "dangerous sexual predator with a history of violence against women. He deserves to stay behind bars for a very long time".

He made his past out to be that his partners were as bad as he was. He said he went with some girls and they were crazy, but we found out later on that he was the crazy one.

Jean's sister Ann-Marie

Marie Brown of Foyle Women's Aid said it is not unusual for women in high risk situations not to come forward because they are too frightened.

"The fear paralyses them and keeps them where they are, so it's very sad that she was terrified of him and knew that she was at risk herself but wasn't able to access support or help," she explained.

Cahoon had been put up for re-trial after a separate jury failed to reach a verdict in July 2009.

Women’s Aid NI telephone: 0800 917 1414
Men’s Advisory Project NI telephone: 028 9024 1929
PSNI telephone: 0845 600 8000
The case has made legal history as it is the first time a defendant has been tried in the Republic under the Criminal Justice Jurisdiction Act 1976 for a non-terrorist crime committed in Northern Ireland.
© UTV News
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