Belfast Telegraph

Estranged husband found wife 'shot dead on launderette floor'

By Ashleigh McDonald

The estranged husband of a woman shot dead in the seaside launderette where she worked has described the moment he realised she was dead.

Marion Millican died from a gunshot wound to her chest in the fatal shooting in Portstewart on March 11, 2011.

Standing trial for her murder is 55-year-old Fred McClenaghan, who has been accused of shooting the mother-of-four with a double-barrelled shotgun.

McClenaghan, from Broad Street in Magherafelt, has denied murder and claimed it was not his intention to kill Mrs Millican, but rather commit suicide in front of her.

The jury heard that after splitting from her husband, Mrs Millican (51) started a relationship with McClenaghan at the beginning of 2010, but by the end of the year she had ended it and was working on a reconciliation with her husband.

As the trial entered its second week, a statement made by Ken Millican was read to the court, which detailed how he and Mrs Millican were in the process of getting back together when she died. The statement also detailed two alleged incidents where McClenaghan was violent to Mrs Millican.

Revealing in his statement that he had been in his estranged wife's company the evening before she was killed, Mr Millican said that on the day of the shooting, he received a call from Mrs Millican's colleague which prompted him to go to the Promenade premises in Portstewart.

Mr Millican said that when he arrived, he could see Mrs Millican lying on the floor.

He said she was lying on her right hand side with her head on the "cold floor" and her body "lying over a manhole cover".

In his statement, Mr Millican said: "Initially I could see nothing wrong with Marion. I thought she had been knocked out."

He said he then checked both her pulse and put his cheek against her mouth to see if she was breathing, but there were no signs of life.

He said: "I felt something warm on my hands and I realised it was blood. The manhole cover was covered in blood."

Mr Millican said he first checked her stomach area to look for a wound before pulling her top further up her chest.

He said that after seeing "a lot of blood", Mr Millican said at this point "I knew that Marion had been shot in the chest and that she was dead".

Also detailed in Mr Millican's statement was a claim that Mrs Millican told him of two previous occasions where McClenaghan was violent towards her during their relationship - once when he punched her on the side of the head and knocked her out after a night at the pub, and another time when he grabbed her by the neck and told her she belonged to him and no-one else.

The jury also heard from several witnesses involved in the aftermath of the shooting.

A hostage and crisis negotiator from the PSNI was tasked to contact McClenaghan after he left the launderette.

After calling the wanted man on his mobile, McClenaghan asked the negotiator: "How is Marion? Is she okay?"

The court heard McClenaghan was arrested in Kilrea later that day, and the weapon was recovered from a field in Ballybogey.

The court also heard the contents of several letters written by McClenaghan - one he wrote to Marion in which he claimed he was molested by a policeman as a child, and another written to a woman detailing how he wanted to be buried and what to do with his dog and possessions after he died.

In the letter written to Mrs Millican, McClenaghan apologised for causing her hurt and pain and told her he loved her.

McClenaghan alleged he was abused and wrote: "I thought I could deal with it, but I now know I can't. I just lash out with drink ... my mind is all over the place."

He also wrote "don't think bad of me Marion, I am not a bad person. When I wasn't drunk we were good together", and claimed he was taking tablets as he was not sleeping due to nightmares about what had happened when he was a child.

In another letter, written to a woman called Gladys, McClenaghan apologises to her and says "I have done my best, but I just can't cope ... I just can't get any peace of mind, and the only way I will get that is when I'm gone".

McClenaghan asked Gladys to find a good home for his dog, sell his belongings and also detailed what he wanted to be buried in.

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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