Trial of man accused of murdering pregnant ex-girlfriend nears end25/04/2012 - 19:42:08
A lawyer for a Derry man who strangled his ex-girlfriend to death has asked a jury to find him guilty of manslaughter and not murder.
Stephen Cahoon (aged 39) of Harvey Street in the city admits killing Jean Quigley in her home in Cornshell Fields, Derry, when she was 10 weeks pregnant with his son.
However, the father-of-one has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 30-year-old mother-of-four on Saturday July 26, 2008.
Her mother found her bruised and strangled body on her blood-stained bed after using her spare key to get into her daughter’s home. Ms Quigley’s otherwise empty house had been locked from the outside.
Both sides gave their closing speeches in Cahoon’s murder trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today.
Paul Burns SC, defending, said that his client had been provoked, lost control and killed Ms Quigley during an argument after sex and therefore was guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Cahoon claimed in the witness box that he saw red when Ms Quigley told him the baby was not his and that she was going to have an abortion. He said he grabbed her by her throat to stop her saying these things and that he didn’t mean to kill her.
Mr Burns said his client could not explain the bruising all over the victim’s body because he lost control.
“Why else would Stephen Cahoon kill the woman he loved other than because he had lost control?” he asked.
He said Cahoon’s version of events was consistent with the evidence.
Patrick Marrinan SC, prosecuting, said that the accused had admitted that the victim's bruises were not consistent with his story.
“Those defensive injuries to her forearm don’t fit with his story,” he said.
He pointed out that the defendant had gone around to his ex-girlfriend’s house unannounced at 2am that morning.
He also pointed to damage done to Ms Quigley’s internal front door, where an inside bolt had been broken from the outside.
“There’s a reasonable inference to be drawn that whoever kicked in the door either had a key to the (outer) front door or that it was inadvertently left open,” he said, adding that Cahoon had offered no explanation for this during his testimony.
“The only inference to be drawn is that the accused man pushed in the door,” he said, adding that Cahoon knew when Ms Quigley’s children would be away and she would be alone.
He described as ‘bizarre in the extreme’ Cahoon’s story of removing the front door key from a bunch of keys he found after the killing and using it to lock the house from the outside.
“He has no explanation for it,” he said. “It’s quite apparent he had his own key and this is a load of nonsense.”
He pointed out that Cahoon could not explain why Ms Quigley’s blood was found on parcel tape at the scene.
He said his story of not calling an ambulance when he got home because he thought she might still be alive was ‘not credible’.
He also questioned why his t-shirt wasn’t covered in blood after administering CPR, as he said he did.
“I suggest his story doesn’t come close to measuring up,” he said.
“This is a case of murder and the suggestion that he temporarily lost control has been rebutted,” he concluded.
Mr Justice Barry White will today charge the jury of seven women and five men, who will then begin deliberating.
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