Blood matching deceased's DNA found on accused's t-shirt, court hears

Stephen Cahoon
Stephen Cahoon

The jury in the trial of a Derry man accused of murdering a pregnant woman has heard that blood matching the DNA of the deceased was found on a white t-shirt found at the apartment of the accused man.

Stephen Cahoon (43) with an address at Harvey Street, Derry, Northern Ireland, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Jean Teresa Quigley (30) at Cornshell fields in Derry on July 26th, 2008.

Taking to the stand at the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Forensic scientist for the Northern Ireland Laboratory, Bronagh Tumulty told Mr Patrick Marrinan, SC prosecuting that she had examined blood stains found at Cornshell Fields.

When questioned about droplets of blood found on the wall and floor of the bedroom near the head of where the deceased lay on July 27th, 2008, Miss Tumulty said: "Blood of that nature has been airborne before it has landed on a surface forming droplets before it dries".

"It could have been (caused by) force of breath - if there is a small impact into wet blood, then this can cause droplets," she said.

The court heard that Miss Tumulty received a number of items on July 29th including two vaginal swabs, a pair of handcuffs, an LG mobile phone and a Samsung mobile phone.

Miss Tumulty received additional items on July 30th and August 1st, including a white t-shirt that was taken from an apartment on Harvey Street, a toilet water sample from Cornshell Fields, a number of swabs and cigarette butts as well as damaged female clothing.

Following an examination of items, Miss Tumulty found that semen present on the vaginal swabs had a DNA profile that matched that of Stephen Cahoon.

A partial profile matching Mr Cahoon was found following examination of the fingernail swabs.

The court heard that the cigarette butts examined showed mixed DNA profiles with the majority matching Jean Quigley and the minority matching Stephen Cahoon.

Miss Tumulty confirmed that a blood sample from the mid front of a plain white t-shirt found at Harvey Street with three small blood spots matched the DNA profile of Jean Quigley.

Blood smears under the right arm matched the DNA of both the accused man and the deceased.

In summary, the jury heard that the semen found on the vaginal swabs indicated that  recent sexual activity had taken place and that there was one in a billion chance that the DNA matched somebody other than Stephen Cahoon.

Examination of the toilet water gave almost a complete profile matching Mr Cahoon which suggested that the toilet was last used by the accused.

The court heard that pieces of crumpled parcel tape were examined and that there were several areas of smeared blood found present on the tape, the majority of which matched the profile of Jean Quigley.

Following her examination of a black bra which had been damaged, Miss Tumulty told Mr Marrinan: "threads are coming apart there - it (damage) did appear recent in origin and probably happened since the garment was last washed".

Miss Tumulty said the damage would not have been due to normal wear and tear.

"It takes a lot of force to pull elastics apart like that," she said.

Taking to the stand, Forensic Scientist, Ciaran Doolan told Mr Marrinan he had downloaded information from two mobile phones believed to have belonged to the accused and Jean Quigley.

Upon his initial examination, Mr Doolan found that all call logs and text messages had been deleted from both phones. 

Following a process of cloning SIM cards, Mr Doolan was able to download recovered text messages.

The court heard that a text message sent from Mr Cahoons phone number on July 11th, 2008 to Jean Quigleys number said: "You better not be texting anyone about (this) or I'll go up there and smash that fucking phone over your head - why did I hear you only got pregnant to get back at someone else".

In further text messages sent from Mr Cahoons phone number on July 20th and 21st, it said: "you just don't know how much I regret" and "sweet dreams and may God watch over you two tonight".

The jury heard that a text message sent from Jean Quigleys phone on July 26th to the phone number of Stephen Cahoon said: "I have done enough for you - I am doing no more".

Under cross examination by Mr Niall Flynn, BL defending, Mr Doolan confirmed that a message sent from Mr Cahoons phone number to Miss Quigleys number spoke about: "our baby that you said I won't see". 

The trial continues tomorrow before Miss Justice Deirdre Murphy and a jury of eight men and four women.