Northern Ireland

Marion Millican: Fred McClenaghan on trial for ex-lover's murder

Marion Millican
Image caption Marion Millican was shot dead in March 2011

A man who claims he accidentally shot his former lover dead while intending to kill himself in front of her has gone on trial for her murder.

Fred McClenaghan shot Marion Millican at a laundrette in Portstewart, County Londonderry, three and half years ago.

The defendant, from Broad Street, Magherafelt, has already pleaded guilty to her manslaughter but the prosecution refused to accept his plea.

The court heard it was no accident, but "murder, pure and simple".

Mrs Millican, who was a married mother of four children, had begun a relationship with 52-year-old Mr McClenaghan after splitting from her husband in September 2009.


However, she ended the new relationship in December 2010, and was in the process of a reconciliation with her husband, just months before she was shot dead.

Mr McClenaghan killed her with a shotgun on 11 March, 2011, after confronting her as she sat having lunch with a friend in the laundrette where she worked.

In his opening address to the jury, a prosecution lawyer said it was the Crown's case that "the accused was motivated by his anger at Marion Millican ending their relationship".

"That he equipped himself with that shotgun, went to her place of work, and in a frame of mind, informed only by his anger at her, caused by her rejection of him, and his treatment of her, deliberately shot her, killing her.

"We say this is murder, pure and simple," the lawyer added.

'Truly sorry'

The court also heard that during police interviews Mr McClenaghan remained mostly silent, although his solicitor did hand in a prepared statement, which was read to detectives.

In the statement, the defendant said: "It was my intention to kill myself... and that Marion would witness my suicide."

It further alleged that he "did not intend to harm" Mrs Millican.

"Marion's death was accidental, and I am truly sorry," Mr McClenaghan's statement added.

'Death threat'

The jurors were told the pair's brief relationship had been peppered with "episodes of violence".

They also heard that in the months before her death, Mrs Millican was warned by police of a death threat from Mr McClenaghan, after he told counsellors of his intended suicide, and of his plan "to kill my girlfriend and then myself".

On the day of the shooting, the accused was filmed on CCTV entering the laundrette armed with a shotgun. He went to the kitchen where he confronted Mrs Millican and her friend Pamela Henry.

Mr McClenaghan was alleged to have grabbed the victim and demanded she come with him to talk, but she refused, fearing she would be "bundled into a car".

At this point Mr McClenaghan fired one shot into the ground between Mrs Millican and her workmate. Mrs Henry then ran and locked herself in a toilet before escaping from the building and raising the alarm.

The defendant claimed that while he was holding the shotgun, Mrs Millican grabbed it and they both struggled with the weapon, falling to the floor.

Chest wound

Mr McClenaghan said as they struggled he told Mrs Millican "to let go of the gun, but she didn't... the gun then went off".

The court heard the victim "sustained a significant chest wound" as a result of the shooting.

She was discovered by another friend, Gillian Johnston, when she called into the laundrette while walking her dog along Portstewart promenade.

The court heard Ms Johnston "saw the body lying on the floor and saw blood".

Mrs Millican's husband and Mrs Henry's husband went to the scene of the shooting, before the police and paramedics arrived.

The trial continues.