Belfast Telegraph

Charlotte Murray murder trial told her phone was used in fortnight after she vanished

Charlotte Murray
Charlotte Murray
Johnny Miller

By Michael Donnelly

A mobile phone belonging to A Co Tyrone woman allegedly murdered by her former fiance was used to send and receive text messages in the fortnight after she disappeared nearly seven years ago, a court has heard.

However, the exact location of Charlotte Murray's phone, or that of the accused, Johnny Miller, cannot be determined with any certainty.

All that can be said is that they were operated within the catchment area of one or a number of cell sites, a court has heard.

The 34-year-old Omagh woman disappeared around Halloween 2012, from the Roxborough Heights home in The Moy she had shared with her 48-year-old chef boyfriend.

Originally from Coleraine, Miller, now with an address in Redford Park in Dungannon, denies murdering Ms Murray at some time between October 30 and November 2, 2012.

A police officer told a Dungannon Crown Court jury of eight men and four women that an examination of the couple's mobile phone records revealed that calls and text messages were made and received by both phones between November 2 and November 15, 2012.

One text on November 11 was sent from Ms Murray's phone and received by Mr Miller's phone within seconds.

It also emerged that both phones were connecting to the same cell site which could be detected at Roxborough Heights.

While the officer claimed his findings were "consistent with the handsets being at the location of Roxborough Heights", under cross examination from defence QC Orlando Pownall, he accepted that "the phones could be anywhere where the cell provides coverage".

Mr Pownall said the cell site analysis was a further illustration that while one phone could be registered on one site, another either sending or receiving calls or texts could be on another, "covering many, many square kilometres".

"Yes it would be a lot," agreed the expert. He said that six cell sites were detected at the house, the furthest being in Keady, about 15km away.

The expert further agreed the records showed that Charlotte's phone had been in Belfast on October 25 and 30, but not in the city after October 31.

Mr Pownall said that while it was a matter for the jury, helped by the evidence of the various expert witnesses, "one must be extremely cautious before concluding if a phone was within Roxborough Heights or within the various cell site areas".

This was accepted by the officer.

The court also heard that Mr Miller was initially interviewed as a witness by police after Ms Murray's disappearance was reported by her family in May 2013.

He told them that after their relationship had ended she had gone to Belfast to start a new job at the end of October or the start of November.

He said: "I have thought a lot about it but can't remember the exact date."

In a statement read to the jury, Miller told police "she seemed to just take a 'head staggers' and said, 'That's me'", leaving with an overnight bag and some clothes.

Over the next couple of days he said he received text messages from her while he was at work at the Cohannon Inn to say she was collecting the rest of her clothes and other items which he had boxed up.

"She then texted something like, 'Don't text me again'. Since then, I had no other contact with her," he told police.

He described his former fiancee as "very headstrong" and said that in anger she would have thrown things at him and on occasions he had barricaded himself in a room.

However, Miller also told police officers: "I would never have been violent back towards her."

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph