Coventry & Warwickshire

Nicola Payne death: Nigel Barwell and Thomas O'Reilly appear in court

Nicola Payne Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Nicola Payne was last seen in December 1991

Two men have appeared in court accused of murdering 18-year-old Nicola Payne, who disappeared 23 years ago.

Nigel Barwell, 50, and Thomas O'Reilly, 50, both of Coventry, are charged with killing the mother of one between 13 and 16 December 1991.

Mr Barwell, of Copperas Street, and Mr O'Reilly, of Ribble Road, spoke only to confirm their details at Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

Both were remanded in custody and will next appear at crown court on Friday.

They were first arrested on suspicion of Ms Payne's murder in late 2013 and formally charged on Monday.

Ms Payne's parents, John and Marilyn, were present at the hearing.

Image copyright Richard Vernalls/PA
Image caption Ms Payne's parents, John (pictured left) and Marilyn (pictured centre), attended the hearing in Birmingham

Speaking outside court afterwards, her aunt, Melanie Eales, said although the charges were a significant step the family's ultimate aim remained finding Ms Payne's body.

Det Insp Martin Slevin, of West Midlands Police, said the focus of the force's efforts would now turn to locating her remains.

The investigation into her death was re-opened in 2012 after detectives were alerted to new information related to the case.

Despite searches of several areas of Coventry, Ms Payne's body has never been found.

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