Convicted: monster who beat and strangled pregnant Jean Quigley
Detectives have welcomed the landmark conviction of a “dangerous sexual predator” who murdered pregnant mother-of-four Jean Quigley.
PSNI chiefs on Monday night described 39-year-old Stephen Cahoon from Moneymore as having a long history of abuse against women.
Jean Quigley was two months pregnant with Cahoon’s baby son when she was brutally murdered by him on July 26, 2008.
The 30-year-old was found strangled, bloodied and badly bruised at her home in Cornshell Fields in Londonderry by her mother, who told the trial that she still had nightmares about her horrific discovery.
Cahoon had elected to be tried in the Republic after being apprehended in Co Donegal over a week after he had fled from Derry.
He had admitted killing Ms Quigley but denied her murder.
A retrial was ordered in 2009 after a jury at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court failed to reach a verdict. At the same court on Monday, however, he was unanimously found guilty of the murder.
Members of her family were in court but made no comment following the verdict.
In a statement following the finding, police north of the border said they hoped it would “bring a small measure of comfort to her family after all they have suffered”.
Describing Ms Quigley as “bright and bubbly”, a PSNI spokesman said that the Derry woman had “suffered a horrendous death at Cahoon’s hands after she told him she wanted to end their brief relationship”.
“Cahoon has brutally taken Jean Quigley’s life and robbed her four young children of a loving mother,” he said. “This was a murder which shocked detectives from Serious Crime Branch and stunned the community.
“Police would like to thank local people (from both Derry and across the border) who came forward with information.”
Police confirmed that the case “made legal history on the island of Ireland”.
“It was the first time a defendant was tried in the Republic under the Criminal Justice Jurisdiction Act 1976 for a non-terrorist crime committed in Northern Ireland,” the spokesman said.
“It shows how the law can be used to bring to justice those individuals who commit the most serious crimes, no matter where.
“Stephen Cahoon is one such individual. He is a dangerous sexual predator with a history of violence against women.
“He deserves to stay behind bars for a very long time.”
A former neighbour of Ms Quigley said that everyone’s thoughts were with Jean’s family following the verdict on Monday.
Helen McLaughlin said: “It will be something of a relief for them and a kind of closure, but this won’t end here for them.
“It might end for everybody else with the verdict but the family will still have to live with waking up and Jean not being there. That doesn’t stop.
“We are just all thinking about them,” she said.
Cahoon is now likely to face a life sentence behind bars for his brutal crime.