Magherafelt man ‘harboured thoughts of stabbing former lover’

A Magherafelt man accused of murdering his former partner told a psychiatric nurse how he harboured thoughts of stabbing her, a jury at his trial heard on Monday.

Fred McClenaghan (52), of Broad Street, Magherafelt denies murdering mother-of-four Marian Millican at a launderette in Portstewart on March 11, 2011, where she worked.

His guilty plea to manslaughter was rejected by the prosecution on the opening day of his trial last week.

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Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard evidence today from two psychiatric nurses who visited McClenaghan over the Christmas period in 2010 after he contacted the Lifeline charity detailing his plans to kill Mrs Millican and then himself.

Nurse Kevin Hassan said he and a colleague visited McClenaghan at his Broad Street flat on the afternoon of Christmas Eve after the defendant’s doctor had referred his case to the Northern Trust’s crisis response home treatment team.

“The information we got from him was that he had assaulted Marian Millican the previous week and he described his mood as being low and having thoughts of life not worth living”, Mr Hassan told the jury sitting with trial judge Mr Justice Treacy.

“It appeared this had been exacerbated by that incident the previous week and he had taken a lot of alcohol.

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“He described that he had thoughts of overdosing and stabbing Miss Millican. He said his mood had been low for the last nine to ten months and expressed thoughts of killing himself and his girlfriend.

“He indicated that he was ruminating about thoughts of sexual abuse as a child.”

As a result of that assessment, Mr Hassan said it was recommended McClenaghan be prescribed temazepam to help him sleep and also diazepam to curb his irritation and anxiety.

Mr Hassan told the jury he assessed McClenaghan as a ‘potential to low risk’ of suicide and harm to other people.

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“He told me he had no active plan to commit suicide. He told me: ‘I will try my best to stay off alcohol.’ He then signed his signature on the assessment form.”

Psychiatric nurse James Martin told the court he visited McClenaghan on Boxing Day morning, December 26, to carry out a further assessment of his mental health state.

Asked by prosecuting counsel Neil Connor to describe McClenaghan’s mood, Mr Martin said: “There was no sign of anxiety, no distress or agitation at that time.

“He said that his sleep had been broken the night before and he also complained of having poor appetite.

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“He mentioned his absence of alcohol on Christmas Day but said he had cravings for alcohol. However, he didn’t think it was necessary for me to refer him to the community addiction team.”

The witness added that McClenaghan told him he had ‘no active plan to harm himself or anyone else’ and had no intentions of harming Mrs Millican.

Mr Martin said he visited McClenaghan again on December 27 during which the defendant spoke about his feelings towards Mrs Millican.

“He said he felt abandoned by his ex-partner but he said he didn’t have thoughts of killing her.”

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The jury was told that McClenaghan had expressed the desire to see Mrs Millican but had been told that would not be possible.

The court heard that the defendant had also talked about writing a letter to his ex-partner.

Added Mr Martin: “He wanted to write a letter to Marian Millican to try and resolve what had happened to them and what caused him to act in the way that he acted and talk about his previous trauma of child sexual abuse.”

The trial was also told how police informed Mrs Millican of a death threat to her from McClenaghan.

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The threat emanated from a phonecall McClenaghan had made to charity Lifeline on Christmas Eve.

The jury heard that a PSNI officer based in Ballymoney went to Mrs Millican’s home at Enfield Street in Portstewart to deliver a ‘Police Message 1’ (PM1) threat message.

In his statement read to the court, the constable said: “I told her it was from her ex-partner. She replied: ‘Him again’.

“She didn’t seem to be worried about that.”

The trial continues.

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