Horrific murder of young mum shocked community

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The brutal murder of pregnant mother-of-four Jean Quigley in the summer of 2008 sent shockwaves through Derry.

In particular, it left the close-knit community of Cornshell Fields, where she lived with her children, reeling.

As details of Jean’s death emerged, neighbours stood about in small groups, talking in hushed tones - stunned that the bubbly young mum, who was expecting her fifth child, had been killed in such a violent manner.

Within hours of her death, scores of people were taking part in a vigil outside Jean’s home.

Neighbours and friends, some of them holding candles, stood next to floral tributes left outside the house.

As the hunt for Jean’s killer intensified, the ‘Journal’ published a front page story revealing that Cahoon was probably the last person to see Jean alive. The story also disclosed the shocking extent of Cahoon’s violent past, revealing details of horrific beatings he had meted out to other women.

Cahoon’s attacks on 18-year-old Lynne McGall and former girlfriend Samantha Brown were considered so violent that, in 2000, the Appeal Court in Belfast increased his jail term from three years to five years and three months.

The ‘Journal’ revealed that Samantha Brown was six months pregnant when Cahoon savagely attacked Ballymena teenager Lynne McGall. Samantha herself was battered by him just weeks after giving birth to their child.

Recalling how he beat her with a belt, she said: “I know I wouldn’t be here today if the belt hadn’t snapped.”

Just days after the ‘Journal’ story appeared, Cahoon was back in police custody after being spotted on CCTV as he walked along the street in Donegal Town - a story exclusively revealed by the Journal’s sister paper, the ‘Donegal Democrat’.

A quick-thinking Garda detective made the arrest in the town’s Diamond after recognising him from a picture.

Cahoon’s trial made history as he opted for trial in the Irish Republic, becoming the first person to face a southern jury for a non-terrorist related offence committed in Northern Ireland.

In November 2009, a jury failed to reach a verdict with Cahoon having to face a re-trial in the same court. It was this judicial process that ended with yesterday’s murder conviction.