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Ex-soldier gets life for murder of grandmother

By Michael Donnelly

Published 16/11/2016

Alan Norman Foster
Alan Norman Foster
Pauline Carmichael

A former soldier has been jailed for life after he pleaded guilty to the murder of his father's partner, Pauline Carmichael (61).

Mr Justice Treacy told Alan Norman Foster (38) that in light of his confession, he would hand him the only sentence permitted by law - life imprisonment - for the murder of the mother-of-six on February 25, 2015.

Sitting just behind him in the public gallery, two of Ms Carmichael's daughters wept as they comforted each other.

The Antrim Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast's Laganside courthouse, adjourned sentencing until next month, when he will set the minimum term Foster must serve before he may be considered for release. Although a jury had been sworn in, defence barrister John McCrudden had asked for Foster to be re-arraigned yesterday, with the murder charge put to him again.

Prosecutor Ciaran Murphy gave no details surrounding the death of the grandmother of 16. However, earlier court hearings were told her pyjama-clad body was found in a river at Antrim's Lough Shore Park, just a mile from the Hillside flat she shared with Foster and his father David.

The body was initially discovered by Belfast Telegraph photographer Kevin Scott in the park at the mouth of the Six Mile Water River at the entrance to Lough Neagh.

A post-mortem examination revealed the 5ft 4ins lightly-built grandmother, originally from Ballyclare, died of drowning, and that she had suffered a broken bone in her throat as well as multiple rib fractures.

Police had told Ballymena Magistrate's Court that Foster was allegedly seen by passing motorists carrying the body of Ms Carmichael and "throwing an object" over a bridge.

A detective also revealed that a short time earlier, police had removed Foster and some friends from Ms Carmichael's flat, but they hung around a neighbouring flat and, when police left the scene, Foster allegedly returned.

"Evidence has been obtained that he left the flat a short time later carrying her over his shoulder and said to his friends that he was going to throw her over the bridge," a detective had said.

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