Northern Ireland news

Fred McClenaghan given 13-year prison sentence for murder of Marion Millican

 Fred McClenaghan murdered Marion Millican

A MAN who murdered his former partner at her workplace has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Fred McClenaghan shot Marion Millican in the chest at point blank range in the Portstewart laundrette where she had worked on March 11 2011.

McClenaghan (55), from Broad Street in Magherafelt, was sentenced in Belfast Crown Court today after pleading guilty to the murder in September. Prior to this guilty plea, MCClenaghan only ever admitted the manslaughter of Marion Millican, was twice convicted and jailed for life with a tariff of 16 years being fixed, both of which were subsequently overturned on appeal.

As Mr Justice Colton told McClenaghan that he will serve a minimum of 13 years in prison before he is considered eligible for release, the judge spoke of the devastating impact Mrs Millican's murder has had on her loved ones.

Saying the 51-year old mother of four's death "will resonate with her family and friends for the rest of their lives", Mr Justice Colton said: "I recognise that the loss of Mrs Millican's life cannot be measured by the length of a prison sentence.

"There is no term of imprisonment that I can impose that will reconcile Mrs Millican's family and friends to their loss, not will it cure their anguish."

During today's sentencing, the judge noted McClenaghan's continual denials that he murdered his former partner.

After separating from her husband, Mrs Millican started a relationship with McClenaghan at the beginning of 2010 -  but by the end of the year she had ended things as he had been violent to her on at least two occasions.

Around the end of 2010 she and her husband were working on a reconciliation.

Just three months later, on the afternoon of Friday March 11th, 2011, McClenaghan entered his former girlfriend's workplace on Portstewart's Promenade.

Minutes later, Mrs Millican's body was found lying face down in a pool of blood. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Around an hour after the murder, McClenaghan contacted a woman in Kilrea and told her "I shot a girl in Portstewart."

He was arrested later that day, and took officers to the area where he disgarded the shotgun. During police interviews, he refused to answer questions - but his solicitor handed police a statement on behalf of McClenaghan which said: "It was my intention to kill myself in front of Marion, who would witness my suicide."

Since March 2011, McClenaghan denied murder. However, three days into the latest trial - which was being held at Belfast Crown Court in September - he dramatically changed his stance and finally admitted a charge of murder.

Mr Justice Colton said this plea had brought "justice and relief" to her family, as well as McClenaghan "acknowledging his guilt for her death."

The judge said he accepted that at the time of the fatal shooting, McClenaghan was being treated for depression and had expressed suicidal tendancies.

However, Mr Justice Colton also noted how McClenaghan had talked about killing his former partner, and that on the day of the murder, Mrs Millican was "taken by surprise at her place of work" by a man who had armed himself in advance.

The court also heard that McClenaghan had "relevant previous convictions" for violence, and had also attacked Mrs Millican on at least two prior occasions.

Mr Justice Colton said that in this case, there can be "no happy outcome", but said the "uncertainty" that had been hanging over this case for the past six years had now gone.

After handing McClenaghan a minimum sentence of 13 years, the judge confirmed that the time McClenaghan has already spend in custody - since his arrest in March 2011 - will be included in the sentence.

The judge also agreed to a request from the Crown that the shotgun used to murder Mrs Millican be destroyed.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said: “I welcome the lengthy sentence handed to Frederick McClenaghan today. He is a very callous and dangerous man and the community is a safer place now that he is behind bars.

“He walked into the laundrette where Marion worked and murdered her in cold blood while she was on her lunch break. Before killing his ex-girlfriend he terrorised her and a colleague by threatening them with his shotgun. When Marion refused to go outside and speak to him he fired a shot into the floor to intimidate her.

“Marion’s terrified colleague managed to escape the laundrette but sadly Marion died at the scene from gunshot wounds to her chest.

“Frederick McClenaghan inflicted further pain and suffering on the Millican family by subjecting them to a total of three trials after successfully appealing his unanimous murder conviction on two occasions. During the third trial in September this year - and after more than six years - he finally admitted his guilt.

“However, he has never given the Millican family the courtesy of an explanation as to why he killed Marion. 

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