Man twice convicted of murdering pregnant ex given extra time to appeal

Stephen Cahoon
Stephen Cahoon

A man who was twice convicted of murdering his pregnant ex-partner following three trials over six years has been granted an extension of time to file an appeal against his most recent conviction for murder.

Stephen Cahoon (43), with a last address at Harvey Street in Derry, had admitted strangling his ex-girlfriend Jean Teresa Quigley, at Cornshell Fields in the city on July 26, 2008, but had denied it was murder.

Jean Quigley

A jury of seven women and five men unanimously found him guilty of murder at the Central Criminal Court on April 30 2012 and he was immediately sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice Barry White.

However, Cahoon successfully appealed his conviction on the basis that the trial judge had misdirected the jury while explaining the defence of provocation.

The unemployed labourer originally from Magherafelt in Co Derry was tried a third time, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy on December 3 last.

A jury had failed to reach a verdict in his first trial.

During case management procedures in the Court of Appeal yesterday, lawyers for Cahoon sought an extension of time to file an appeal against conviction.

Mr Justie George Birmingham said he would extend time. He was “a day out” of time, the judge said.

The trials made legal history. Cahoon was charged under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976 and opted for trial in the Republic. He became the first person to be tried for a murder in the Republic which had been committed in Northern Ireland.

The 1976 Act was brought in to allow for trials in the Republic for offences committed outside the jurisdiction in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. 

Even though it has rarely been the law for almost thirty years, up until now cases under the act have been tried before the three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court.