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Stephen Cahoon found guilty of murdering pregnant mother-of-four

Today’s verdict at the Central Criminal Court comes after three trials over a period of six years.

Stephen Cahoon, pictured in 2009.
Stephen Cahoon, pictured in 2009.
Image: PA WIRE

DERRY MAN STEPHEN Cahoon has been found guilty for the second time of murdering pregnant mother-of-four Jean Teresa Quigley – after three trials over a period of six years.

Cahoon (43) – with a last address at Harvey Street in the city – admitted strangling his ex-girlfriend Ms Quigley (30), who was 10-weeks pregnant with his child at the time. He had denied it was murder.

The jury heard that Ms Quigley’s naked and bruised body was discovered at her home by her mother, Ms Emma McBride.

A Central Criminal Court jury today found Cahoon guilty by unanimous verdict of murdering Ms Quigley at Cornshell fields in Derry on 26 July, 2008.

They had deliberated for three hours 43 minutes.

Taped and handcuffed 

Cahoon, who gave direct evidence at the trial, had told the jury that he “handcuffed” Ms Quigley’s hand to her bed and “taped” her other hand to the other side of the headboard before having sex.

Afterwards Cahoon said he saw “red” when Ms Quigley told him the baby was not his and so he “grabbed and pushed” her and put his “hand on her throat”.

However prosecution counsel, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, told the jury that that there was evidence of “violence from beginning to end” at the scene.

He said there was evidence that Ms Quigley’s door had been “broken in” and there were defensive injuries and bruising to Ms Quigley’s arms, scalp and head, which was “utterly inconsistent” with the version of events given by Stephen Cahoon.

Mr Marrinan said Cahoon had made a “conscious decision to leave a woman who was unwell and needed assistance and lock her in the house”.

“There was no loss of self-control that was temporary and overwhelming to give rise to a defence of provocation,” prosecution counsel said.

Third trial 

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy this afternoon thanked the jury for their service saying they struck her “as a very engaged and conscientious jury”.

“It’s a very important function and I hope you got an insight into that after the last few weeks. I exempt you from jury service for ten years,” she said.

This was Cahoon’s third trial for murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend and he has served close to ten years in prison.

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In his first Central Criminal Court trial a hung jury failed to reach a verdict.

On 30 April 2012 a jury unanimously found him guilty of murder at the Central Criminal Court and he was immediately sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice Barry White.

However in March of this year, the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction due to an error in the judge’s instructions to the jury, ordered a retrial and remanded him in custody.


Cahoon, an unemployed labourer originally from Magherafelt in Co Derry, successfully appealed his conviction on the basis that the trial judge had misdirected the jury while explaining the defence of provocation.

The trials made legal history. Cahoon was charged under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976 and opted for trial in the Republic. He became the first person to be tried for a murder in the Republic which had been committed in Northern Ireland.

The 1976 Act was brought in to allow for trials in the Republic for offences committed outside the jurisdiction in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

Up until now cases under the act have been tried before the three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court.

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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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