Magherafelt man Freddie McClenaghan, twice unanimously convicted and jailed for life for blasting his former lover with an antique shotgun, has been given the same minimum term of 16 years jail for the murder of 51-year-old mother-of-four Marion Millican.
Mr Justice Treacy told 52-year-old McClenaghan that while he would receive no remission on that term, his sentence will, however, date from the day he shot his former lover in the Portstewart laundrette where she had worked for over a decade.
When first sentenced in September 2012 the original trial Judge Corinne Philpott QC also imposed the same minimum term, telling McClenaghan it would be up to the Parole Commissioners to decide if and when he should be freed back into society.
McClenaghan, from Broad Street in Magherafelt, was arrested within hours of the laundrette shooting on March 11, 2011, and has now spent the last three years and nine months in jail.
Mrs Millican’s daughter, Suzanne Davis, said the family were “very disappointed” in the sentence as they left Belfast’s Laganside courthouse.
When McClenaghan was originally sentenced in 2012, Ms Davis had also said that: “As a family we feel the sentence was very lenient, especially for such a crime, such a violent crime, that has been committed. Sixteen years is definitely not enough.”
She had also described her murdered mother as being “the glue that kept us together and now she is not here”.
“It’s the simple things in life that we miss about her as much as the milestones, every little insignificant thing, and she’s not here.”
In his sentencing remarks Mr Justice Treacy acknowledged the hurt that the Millican family had suffered at the hands of McClenaghan and the impact it has had on their lives.
He told Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that he had “carefully read and considered these moving personal accounts which bear testimony to the love and affection of the Millican family, and the irreversible and devastating loss caused by the murder of Marion”.
He said he had taken all these reports into account, as well as the medical evidence on McClenaghan’s depressive illness, and submissions from the prosecution and defence, in reaching the appropriate tariff.
However, while he said the “present case does not easily fall into the specific categories identified in the (sentencing) guideline”, it was his judgment McClenaghan’s “culpability is high and Mrs Millican was vulnerable and completely defenceless”.
Although McClenaghan had refused to give evidence in his own defence, during either of his two trials, he always claimed that what occurred was a “horrible accident”, and that he had meant to commit suicide in front of Mrs Millican. He and Mrs Millican had parted around Christmas 2010, following what the judge termed as “episodes of serious violence”.