Belfast Telegraph

Former lover shot woman dead accidentally, judges told

BY ALAN ERWIN

A woman shot dead by her ex-lover in a launderette was killed by accident, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Lawyers for Fred McClenaghan claimed his hopes of proving he never intended to kill Marion Millican were dashed by protocol breaches in examining the hair-trigger antique shotgun used.

They also argued that his responsibility was diminished by coming off anti-depressants.

McClenaghan (51) is seeking to overturn his conviction for murdering Mrs Millican at her workplace in Portstewart, Co Londonderry, in March 2011.

The victim (51), a mother-of-four, died at the scene.

The weapon used was an antique, double-barrelled shotgun dating back to the 19th century.

McClenaghan, formerly of Broad Street, Magherafelt, is serving a minimum 16 years in jail for murder. His case has always been that the gun went off unintentionally during a struggle.

Defence QC John McCrudden claimed serious flaws occurred during testing to establish if his client's claims could be right.

He contended: "His best chance, and that which he had a reasonable expectation to rely on, was for the State to have handled that gun correctly."

The three appeal judges, Lord Justice Girvan, Lord Justice Coghlin and Mr Justice Gillen, were told it was the potential piece of independent evidence which could have backed McClenaghan's version of events.

Mr McCrudden also took issue with how the trial judge handled a medical expert's assessment of the defendant's mental state.

McClenaghan's legal team claimed a defence toxicologist was wrongly excluded from commenting. But Richard Weir QC, for the prosecution, argued that the trial judge only placed a small limit on his evidence.

The hearing continues.

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