A pregnant mother-of-four was strangled to death in her home while her children spent the night at their father’s house, a murder trial has heard.
Jean Teresa Quigley (aged 30) was found dead by her mother in her Derry home on July 26, 2008. She was 10 weeks pregnant.
The father of her unborn son is on trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, charged with murdering her.
Stephen Cahoon of Harvey Street, Derry admits killing his ex-girlfriend but has pleaded not guilty to her murder in Cornshell Fields. The 39-year-old went missing after her killing but was arrested in Donegal 10 days later.
The State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, Professor Jack Crane, carried out a post-mortem examination on Ms Quigley. He told the trial today that his findings were consistent with death having been due to manual strangulation.
He testified that Ms Quigley’s face was purple when he first examined her on her bed. She was naked, but partially covered in a blood-stained duvet, on which her face was resting; there was blood-stained fluid leaking from her mouth and nose.
He said the purple colour of her face was as a result of pinhead sized haemorrhages, which may have been caused by compression of the neck.
He confirmed his suspicions during a more thorough examination in The Royal Victoria Hospital, when he discovered bruises or other marks from her head to her ankle.
He said there was bruising on the front of her neck, above the top of the voice box and under the chin. There were also bruises under both her jaws.
“Injuries in those areas are quite significant, typically caused by the grip of a hand, with the thumb on one side and the fingers on the other,” he explained. “I’ve no doubt that these injuries were caused by forceful pressure to the neck.”
He said that there was also bruising along the deeper muscles of the neck, which suggested greater pressure.
“(They) indicate forceful compression of the neck, possibly by a hand or hands, sufficient to inhibit breathing and blood flow to the head,” he explained.
He said that bruising to her upper arms were consistent with grasping, while bruising to her lower arms were consistent with them having been raised in a defensive action.
He said that a band of bruising on the back of her right forearm could be consistent with something, such as a ligature, having been tied around the limb.
He said that both her legs were also bruised and that there was a band of pale skin above the top of her right foot, almost encircling her leg.
“This might be suggestive of the application of a ligature,” he said.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven women and five men.