Mother of four ‘was afraid’ of her killer - court hears

A man on trial charged with murdering the mother of his unborn baby told friends she was afraid of him.

Stephen Cahoon of Harvey Street, Derry is on trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin charged with murdering his 30-year-old ex-girlfriend, Jean Teresa Quigley, on July 26 2008.

The 39-year-old has admitted killing the mother-of-four but has pleaded not guilty to murdering her at her home in Cornshell Fields, where she was found strangled.

Sandra Wilson testified today (Tuesday) that she and a friend visited the defendant sometime before the killing and that he had been texting Ms Quigley.

“He was upset they’d split up,” she said.

Ms Wilson said he told her he’d received a text from Ms Quigley in which she said she was afraid to go out with him in case he would hurt her.

Ms Wilson said that the defendant insisted he wouldn’t raise a hand to her.

She said she was concerned for Mr Cahoon as he said he was going to jump off a bridge.

She said they were in each other’s company again the night before Ms Quigley died and that the defendant was ‘very quiet’ and ‘a bit down’.

“He just sort of sat on his own,” she recalled of the Friday night out in their local pub.

She said she tried to ring him around 3am to see if he was ok, but got no answer.

Earlier, Ms Quigley’s former partner described how their children couldn’t get into their house when he dropped them home to her the following afternoon.

Colm Quinn explained that he’d had the children since the previous afternoon and was due to drop them home to Ms Quigley around 3pm that Saturday.

“The kids knocked on the door and windows trying to get in,” he said, explaining that neither he nor the children had keys.

He said he presumed that Ms Quigley was over at her mother’s house and so he dropped the children off there.

The court has already heard that Ms Quigley’s mother later became concerned for her daughter when she couldn’t contact her.

She used a spare key to let herself into her daughter’s house, where she found her body ‘naked and partially covered in a duvet, lying on her bed, bruised and with blood coming from her mouth’.

The young mother was pronounced dead at the scene and her cause of death was later given as manual strangulation.

Stephen Cahoon became a suspect quickly and was arrested in Donegal town 10 days later.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven women and five men.