Magherafelt man said he had ‘shot a girl in Portstewart’

Fred McClenaghan

Fred McClenaghan

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Magherafelt man Freddie McClenaghan who claims he accidently killed his former lover Marion Millican with a shotgun, confessed in the hours following the shooting, his trial heard on Monday.

The 52-year-old from Broad Street, first admitted shooting the mum of four in a Portstewart laundrette, to the sister of a former partner, and then to police sent to arrest him at her home.

Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that following the shooting McClenaghan drove to the Kilrea home of the sister of his former partner with whom he had a son nearly 30 years ago.

Ms Sheila Donnelly was in her office where she worked as a manager of a Fold providing social housing and sheltered accommodation. It was the first time she has seen him in around two to 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. She said she then asked ‘Freddie’ if anything was wrong, to which he replied “he had shot a girl ... he said he shot a girl in Portstewart.”

Ms Donnelly said Freddie told her that the shooting had followed a break-up with the girl from Christmas time.

He told her that he had gone to the launderette in the seaside town and said “he fired one shot that I thought it was in 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 it and it went off ... I took out of it, that she tried to get the gun from him ... he said he had just wanted to talk to her.”

McClenaghan told Ms Donnelly he had stayed with Mrs Millican “for a few moments” then left the premises. She said she then became concerned for the older residents in the Fold, incase the shotgun “was still about”, but was told that the weapon had been thrown away into a hedge.

Some time later, the witness said Freddie received a telephone call and that she thought it was the police, who arrived at the Fold a short time later. She also said she went outside to meet them and tell them “there was no gun or anything like that there.”

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 also 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 him, McClenaghan told them “there is no need for this ... and 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 the police officer told the court how McClenaghan had directed them to a lane way on the outskirts of Ballymoney where he dumped the shotgun. The weapon was found in a hedgerow by a small stream, from where it was later recovered by other police.