Chef Johnny Miller guilty of murdering ex-fiancee Charlotte Murray
Co Tyrone chef Johnny Miller has been found guilty of the murder of his ex-fiancee Charlotte Murray.
Miller buried his head into his hands, sighing deeply as the foreman of the Dungannon Crown Court jury of eight men and four women announced their unanimous verdict after three hours deliberation, over two days, that he was guilty of killing his then 34-year-old former girlfriend between October 31 and November 2, 2012.
He has been jailed for life at the end of the four-week trial.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC told 48-year-old Miller, with an address in Redford Park, Dungannon, that "there is only one sentence I can impose in respect of murder, which is life imprisonment, and I impose it".
Judge Fowler added that he would set the minimum tariff he must serve before being considered for release at a hearing in four weeks time.
Sitting just behind Miller, in the public gallery, both his family and that of Charlotte's wept. At one stage Ms Murray's family and friends, including her mother Mary and identical twin sister Denise, began to clap the verdict, but it was soon muted.
Miller's defence claimed Charlotte was either alive or had fallen victim of another killer, whereas the prosecution contented Miller killed Charlotte in a murderous rage after she'd sent him explicit images of herself in the arms of another man.
It was claimed he used Charlotte's mobile phone to send himself text messages to "lay a false trail" in an attempt to show her alive in the days and weeks following her disappearence.
Miller had maintained Miller Charlotte got up and left their then Roxborough Heights home in the Moy without even saying goodbye.
Miller had accepted that in the early hours of the morning before Charlotte disappeared, he'd been on the internet looking up sites to pawn their engagement ring, but claiming this was only after she sent him the explicit images of herself in the arms of another man.
However, the timing of the emails showed that he'd been online looking at the pawn sites some 13 minutes or so before he was sent the damning images, which the prosecution claimed was "the last straw ... a last humilitaiton...being shown to be a cuckold" and in his rage killed Charlotte.
Cell site analysis of the use of their mobile phones also demonstrated that Charlotte's phone, "far from being in Belfast" were Miller claimed she'd gone for a job in internet sales, had never left the Moy area.
From the outset of the Crown case, prosecution QC Richard Weir conceded that the case against Miller was "circumstantial", but a strong one nevertheless, and that Charlotte did not simply disappear, she was murdered and murdered by the man she'd proposed marriage to.
But as he reviewed each "strand" of that circumstantial case the lawyer said repeatedly that it proved "Charlotte is dead and he (Miller) killed her".
Mr Weir also maintained that there was "not one shred of evidence in anything that Charlotte said or done" to show she wanted to disappear without a trace, and had left the Roxborough Heights home she'd shared with Miller without one word of goodbye.
The jury may have accepted this too, and the prosecution contention that while in the witness box Miller's evidence was "riddled with inconsistencies, inaccuracies and down right lies", and that his "hopes" of Charlotte someday walking through the doors of the court would never come true because "he killed her".
Miller's past diary entries too must have been written at a time when he knew "what happened to Charlotte Murray ... and how she died and where her body is". And that he guessed someone would find the diary notes and read them.
Belfast Telegraph Digital