IN the early hours of September 5, 1998, young mother Tammy Cockburn got up to feed her baby and was confronted with a horror that can still reduce her to tears.

She heard a noise in the street and looked outside to see two men and a woman involved in a heated argument. One of the men was Stuart Drury, the woman was Marilyn McKenna.

Drury was telling the other man to f*** off, and it looked to Tammy Cockburn as if the woman had been caught with someone she shouldn't have been with.

The woman ended up in the roadway and Drury began hitting her over and over again with what at first glance looked like a rolled-up newspaper.

But as Drury raised his hand for another blow on his victim, the street light exposed a weapon far more deadly than a rolled-up newspaper.

It was a hammer and Drury smashed the claw end as many as 10 times into Marilyn McKenna's unprotected face. The attack was so savage that a piece of her jawbone with teeth still embedded was later found in the street.

Even behind the closed windows of her flat, Ms Cockburn could hear the brutal thud of the blows, which she remembers now as being like someone hammering a nail into concrete.

Ms McKenna suffered a massive stroke as the hammer blows damaged major arteries carrying blood to her brain and died in hospital the next day from her injuries. In the unlikely event she had survived, she would have been left severely disabled.

A few days before her death, Ms McKenna phoned her sister to predict that that a campaign of harassment by Drury, her former partner, would end in tragedy. ''I'm going to be found in a pool of blood and everybody will be paying attention,'' she said.

Her sister and confidante, Aileen McDermott, felt that Ms McKenna had reached a stage beyond fear and had almost given up hope of ever freeing herself from a man who would not accept that their relationship was over.

Her telephone answer machine was full of messages from Drury, his voice contorted with anger and drink. ''You're the f***ing most cheating, deceiving cow I have ever met . . . but you're the one that I f***ing love.''

Drury was found by police lurking in the bushes outside her flat and, after he was moved on, tried to place a reverse charge call. Over the operator's voice, Ms McKenna could hear him say: ''You're dead.''

When police arrived at Drury's flat on the day of her death, they found two pictures of her in his possession. Both were ripped and in both her face had been scratched out.

Drury, 35, was convicted of the murder of the mother-of-three yesterday for the second time and the family, for a moment, were allowed to smile. They embraced each other outside the court room and one relation wept as she said: ''At last, after three years, Marilyn can rest in peace.''

Mrs McDermott, 47, the eldest sister in a family of eight, said yesterday she has been ''broken'' by the case.

''Marilyn was murdered three years ago. He was already convicted of her murder at Glasgow High Court and since that time, we have to suffer an appeal with three judges, another appeal with five judges and, when it was finally agreed that there would be a retrial, we have had seven cancellations.''

Mrs McDermott is acutely aware that the public becomes desensitised to such family tragedies. ''You watch the television, you pick up a paper and there is another person saying 'what about us?'

''Is is not time we listened to the victim instead of the criminal who seems to have everything going for him? I won't rest until the system has changed. I have real anger in me about this. Do they really care, do the politicians or the courts really care for five minutes?

''My family has been devastated in the past few years, every one of us has taken tranquillisers or anti-depressants; children who have been doing exams at school who have not been able to concentrate. This is going to take a very long while to get over.

''To have been through this thing twice has been devastating. I am a very strong woman and yet I feel broken. I have tried to fight for changes in the law but this justice system, everything is geared towards the criminal and people are just not listening.''

The legacy for the family is Ms McKenna's three children: Brian 16, Laura 12 and Ross eight, and the renewed fight for a shake-up in the way the criminal justice system treats vulnerable women.

Her sister was as close to a text-book case as it gets. She reported every threat over the years since 1996 when he broke her nose in a jealous rage. In all, the family claims that at least 64 police officers were involved in reporting the endless onslaught of threats and, in 1997, Ms McKenna obtained an interim court order banning him from contacting her.

''I want to try and fight on and campaign for women in domestic violence situations or women who have been stalked.

''But the fact is it strengthens what I have been saying all along - that it was only the tip of the iceberg. This went on for two or three years and we heard nothing in the court of the real amount of harassment this man gave her.

''And because there was no laws against stalking, it could not come up and there could be no charge except under breach of the peace.

Ms McKenna's family is not bitter about the evidence from the defence concerning her sexual character, realising that Drury was intent on weaving a tissue of lies. Little is known about the former salesman regarded even by his own family as ''a Walter Mitty character''.

Mrs McDermott added: ''This man felt he had to get away with a conviction of murder so he sat down and he was devious, he was a liar.