Dungannon man accused of Charlotte murder denied bail.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A 46-YEAR-OLD Dungannon man charged with the murder of missing woman, Charlotte Murray, has been refused bail after appearing before a court in Dungannon.

Originally from Omagh, but living in Moy for some time, Charlotte was reported missing by her family in 2013. She was aged 34.

Members of her family sat quietly in the gallery of Dungannon Magistrate's Court, where John Patrick Miller - her former partner - appeared by video-link.

The defendant, who is a chef from Redford Park, Dungannon, is charged with murdering Charlotte, sometime in the 24-hour period between 31 October and 1 November 2012.

Police believe Charlotte was murdered after Miller was sent explicit images of her with another man, and within hours was attempting to sell her engagement ring.

He appeared in court last week in Strabane where he was remanded in custody, as a solicitor indicated bail would be applied for on the next occasion.

That turned out to be Wednesday last, 1st November, five years to the day when it is suspected Charlotte was murdered.

Her body has never been found.

A detective sergeant objected to bail stating there is a risk of flight as Miller has associates in France whom he visited in September. In addition, Police believe as Miller now knows the extent of evidence against him, he could abscond.

Outlining the background to the court, the detective said: "The defendant and Charlotte were in a relationship from around 2011 when they resided and worked on the island of Lusty Beg.

Charlotte got a dog and because this was not permitted where they resided on the Island, the couple moved to Roxborough Heights in Moy and both began work in the Cohannon Inn.

They became engaged in February 2012, but Miller would later claim the relationship began to decline shortly after.

Charlotte was at this time seeking another job and was offered a position in Belfast just prior to her disappearance.

At some time between 23rd and 24th October 2012 the couple were out socialising with others and Charlotte ended up going home with a male with whom she stayed the night.

From around 1.30am to 10am numerous attempts were made to contact and locate her whereabouts.

The detective said intimate images of Charlotte were emailed to Miller around the 31st October and 1st November.

This is the time Charlotte is believed to have died and during the early hours of the morning, Miller went online searching for pawn shops and seeking to sell an engagement ring.

At around 5.15am on 1st November, a post appeared on Charlotte's Facebook account, saying: "I'm so p***ed off with life. I have to go away for a while." This was later found to have been posted from a different internet address, but registered at Charlotte's home.

A text is sent from Charlotte's mobile phone to her new employers to say she would not be coming in.

The court heard that Miller then contacted the Cohannon Inn to say Charlotte would not be returning to work.

Later that day a friend received a text from Charlotte's phone which stated: "I'm going away for a while." Police believe the phone at this time was in Miller's possession.

The detective continued: "Cell-site analysis has shown these communications were made in the vicinity of Charlotte's home." At this time Miller would later claim Charlotte had left and gone to Belfast and the relationship was over.

He asserted she took only a computer and left everything else behind including her dog.

However, Police believe the computer was removed by Miller as he knows it contains crucial evidence.

Miller claimed he received text messages from Charlotte on a number of occasions afterwards, asking when he would be at home as she would be calling to collecting her belongings.

He contended he arrived home from work on one occasion and some items had been removed.

The detective told the court: "We believe we can prove what the defendant put forward as a statement in 2013 is lies. During three days of interview (from the most recent arrest), he gave no comment responses to everything except on the missing computer. All these questions we put to him in relation to Charlotte's disappearance, which are crying out for answers, but he refused to put forward any responses."

Concluding his objections, the detective stated: "A former girlfriend of Miller's, whom we are describing as Witness B, has stated theirs was an abusive relationship. She claims she was knocked backwards down a flight of stairs." The detective concluded: "Traces of Charlotte's blood were found in the bathroom of the Roxborough Heights house. It was around the waste water pipe and spatters were also located on the wall behind the toilet. All we know is that it is Charlotte's blood. We cannot be sure what else happened in that bathroom. Searches are ongoing for her remains as we speak."

However, defence lawyer Peter Corrigan swiftly responded: "The presence of blood does not signify a murder occurred in that house.

Animal blood was also found there. There is no evidence a murder took place in the house." Challenging the Police, the objections, he continued: "This court cannot be sure there has even been a murder." Almost shouting his submission, to the point Deputy District Judge Bonita Boyd told him to lower his voice, Mr Corrigan continued: "This defendant has a strong presumption of innocence in favour of bail. The evidence is based on pure suspicion, conjecture and the comments of an ex-partner.

"There is no tangible evidence. The detective has submitted to this court that my client was a violent individual and described the evidence of Witness B, an ex-partner. I can inform the court some of my client's ex-girlfriends are here in court and are willing to state he is not a violent man." Described as a head chef in the Cohannon Inn, the defence said his client had worked in many top restaurants and is an All-Ireland champion canoeist.

"He is not violent, nor highly strung nor bad tempted. His parents are in court and willing to have him reside at their home in Coleraine, whilst his sister is willing to put forward a 20,000 surety. This is the faith they have in him." However, Judge Boyd rejected the application stating she was not satisfied any conditions she could impose would mitigate risk of flight or interference with the investig ation.

Miller was remanded in custody and is due to appear before the Court again by video-link later this month.


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