Belfast Telegraph

Murder accused confessed to the killing twice, court is told

By Michael Donnelly

A man who shot his former lover with a shotgun at the launderette where she worked confessed to the killing in the hours after she died, his trial has heard.

Fred McClenaghan (52), of Broad Street, Magherafelt, denies murdering Marion Millican but has pleaded guilty to her manslaughter, claiming he accidentally shot her.

He first admitted shooting the mother-of-four to the sister of a former partner, and then later to police sent to arrest him at her home, Antrim Crown Court heard.

After the shooting in a Portstewart launderette on March 11, 2011, McClenaghan drove to the Kilrea home of Sheila Donnelly. She is the sister of his former partner, with whom he had a son nearly 30 years ago.

Ms Donnelly was in her office, where she worked as a manager of a Fold sheltered accommodation scheme. It was the first time she had seen him in two or three years, and he asked to use the toilet.

"I thought he was a wee bit shaken and shocked looking," she told prosecuting QC Richard Weir.

Ms Donnelly said she then asked 'Freddie' if anything was wrong, and he replied saying that "he had shot a girl... he said he shot a girl in Portstewart".

She said McClenaghan told her that he had gone to the launderette where he fired one shot into the air "and then one into the lady herself".

She had also been told there had been a struggle and that 51-year old Mrs Millican had grabbed the gun he was holding.

Ms Donnelly said McClenaghan claimed that "it went off".

Ms Donnelly added: "I took out of it that she tried to get the gun from him.

"He said he had just wanted to talk to her." She said she then became concerned for the older residents in the Fold, in case the shotgun "was still about", but was told that the weapon had been thrown into a hedge by McClenaghan.

The police arrived at the Fold a short time later. Ms Donnelly said it was only after she heard one of the officers use the word "murder" that she realised Mrs Millican was dead.

Later she agreed with the defence that McClenaghan had repeatedly said all he wanted to do was talk with Mrs Millican.

One of the officers who arrested McClenaghan told the court that without any prompting the accused told him: "That should be me lying there."

He also said that when putting a forensic suit on McClenaghan, he told them: "There is no need for this." The trial also heard McClenaghan "said something along the lines of, 'I'm meeting this'."

Later, under cross-examination from defence QC John McCrudden, the officer agreed that what he had been told was "I'm saying it was me... there is no need for this" – meaning the forensic suit.

Earlier an officer told how McClenaghan had directed them to a laneway on the outskirts of Ballymoney where he dumped the shotgun. The weapon was found in a hedgerow by a small stream.

At hearing.

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