Murdered Marion Millican's friend tells of trauma of testifying at three trials
The best friend of murdered Co Londonderry woman Marion Millican said she was "re-traumatised" after testifying in three murder trials in six years - but said she owed it to her late co-worker to get her the justice she deserved.
Pamela Henry (57) was working in a Portstewart laundrette with Mrs Millican when Fred McClenaghan blasted her in the chest with a shotgun on March 11, 2011.
Mrs Henry said she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, and has lost five stone due to the stress of repeated trials.
In a dramatic twist on Tuesday, McClenaghan pleaded guilty to his former partner's murder at his third trial.
He had already been convicted of Mrs Millican's murder twice before, but had both convictions overturned on appeal.
The court costs for the murder trial, two retrials and appeals could top £800,000.
Mrs Henry, who visits Mrs Millican's grave every week, described McClenaghan as a monster who had destroyed her friend.
"I don't think I'll ever get over what happened," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "Marion was so lovely - very kind, and a loving wife, mother, aunt and granny.
"She had a good personality, she spoke to everybody, and Fred McClenaghan destroyed that.
"When she started going out with him she was a size 10, but she went down to a size six due to stress. She had panic attacks, she was on anti-anxiety medication. She was always scared of him, of the way he was treating her. He was hitting her. He was mad, crazy, very violent.
"At one stage he chipped one of her front teeth, and another day she came in with bruises on her neck. After that she stayed away. He used to keep ringing the laundry, but when he came in that day she hadn't heard from him in a few weeks. I said to her he wouldn't bother her again.
"She was so happy and had got back with her husband, and she had got a wee grandchild."
Reliving the events of the horrific day when Mrs Millican lost her life, Mrs Henry recalled: "It was about 1.15pm, we were having lunch and the door opened.
"Marion went up to see who it was and said, 'You're not going to believe who this is'.
"Freddie was coming in the door with a gun. I knew he was coming in to shoot Marion.
"He came up to her and grabbed her by the arm and says to Marion to come out to talk to him. She said no as she was afraid, and he fired a shot in between me and her on the floor. I tried to get out, I ran into the toilet and he busted the door down and dragged me out.
"The door was open a wee bit, I tried to get out and Marion was winking to me to go.
"She knew what he was going to do. She was really distraught, crying. She was trying to reason with him."
Mrs Henry managed to escape and ran to a nearby restaurant. She contacted her husband, and the emergency services were alerted.
"I didn't hear the shot," she recalled. "My husband Thomas was the first one to get to the laundry. It was terrible for him. She was lying on the floor, face down. There was blood everywhere. McClenaghan was picked up by the police later."
Despite giving evidence via videolink during the three trials, which meant she did not have to face McClenaghan, Mrs Henry says she was still "frightened".
"I couldn't see him but he could see me," she said. "Even though I was surrounded by people, I was frightened. I was re-traumatised every time I had to give interviews. I stopped eating. I was a size 22, now I'm a size 12.
"It was really horrendous, but as the main witness I felt I had to do it for Marion and her family. That was the thought which got me through - that I was doing it for Marion."
Mrs Henry formed a "network of support" throughout the long campaign for justice with Mrs Millican's husband Ken and daughter Suzanne.
"On Tuesday, Suzanne sent me a wee message to say justice had been done, and I sent her one saying the same," she revealed.
"I'm determined to go to the sentencing. I'm hoping life will mean life, without parole.
"The events of that day will live with me for the rest of my life, but we're trying to rebuild our lives. I think we have a duty to live our lives to the full for Marion. We don' t want to let Fred McClenaghan win.
"I miss Marion so much. I go to her grave every week, I talk to her and tell her I miss her."