Northern Ireland

Charlotte Murray: John Miller accused of murder

Missing Omagh woman Charlotte Murray Image copyright Other
Image caption Charlotte Murray was 34 when she was reported missing in 2012

The former fiance of a County Tyrone woman who went missing seven years ago has gone on trial accused of her murder.

Charlotte Murray was last seen in late 2012 and reported missing by her family in early 2013.

The 34-year-old's body has never been found and, in 2017, police said they believed she had been murdered.

John Miller, 48, of Redford Park in Dungannon, denies killing Miss Murray between 30 October and 2 November 2012.

The couple shared a house in Moy's Roxborough Heights and Miss Murray, who was originally from Omagh, worked in the Cohannon Inn nearby.

Shortly before her disappearance, she had been looking for other work and had been offered a sales job in Belfast.

Image caption John Miller denies murdering his fiance

She was reported missing by her twin sister Denise as her family became increasingly worried by the lack of contact.

Opening the case for the prosecution at Dungannon Crown Court, a lawyer said blood stains matching the DNA profile of Charlotte Murray had been found in the bathroom of her house.

While the blood stains did not pinpoint exactly when or how she died, the lawyer said, the circumstantial evidence pointed "inexorably and comprehensively" to Mr Miller and only to him.

Other evidence included examination of various computers, and text messages which, the lawyer suggested, were sent to "falsely show Charlotte was still alive after 1 November 2012".

When initially spoken to by police in May 2013, Mr Miller, who is originally from Coleraine, made a witness statement before he was later interviewed as a suspect in Miss Murray's disappearance.

'A very troubled life'

The first person to give evidence was Charlotte's mother Mary Murray.

She had last seen her daughter 18 months before she was reported missing and said it wasn't unusual for her not to phone for weeks.

In their last phone conversation at Halloween 2012, Mary Murray said Charlotte complained her family didn't love her, but she told her she was loved.

She said Charlotte had a very troubled life, she drank to excess and she suspected her of abusing Class A drugs.

She added that she could be violent and had been suicidal in the past, attempting to take her own life after the death of a boyfriend.

She said she was aware Charlotte was convicted for an attack on a man with a stiletto shoe and she became concerned at Christmas 2012 when there was no contact at the time of her birthday.

'Rocky relationship'

Denise Murray said she had not been on speaking terms with her twin sister for a several months before she disappeared.

She said they had a rocky relationship which could be volatile at times and admitted she did not know at the time that her sister was engaged.

She made contact with Johnny Miller in March 2013 to see if he knew where her sister was.

Mr Miller gave her a box of Charlotte's belongings and said he had not heard from her and didn't know where she was.

He told her he had sold Charlotte's car as she had owed him money for rent.

Ms Murray went to the police in May 2013 to report her sister missing.

A defence lawyer asked if she could recall the police asking her about possible sightings of her sister in Moy in June 2013 and Birmingham in August 2013.

The trial is expected to last four to five weeks.