Belfast Telegraph

Murder accused denies web search for saw blades and axes was sinister

Murder accused Johnny Miller
Murder accused Johnny Miller
Missing Charlotte Murray

By Michael Donnelly

The Co Tyrone chef accused of murdering his former fiancee has denied his online search of a DIY retailer's website of "double-headed axes, saw blades and cleaning materials" had anything to do with her killing.

Johnny Miller, with an address in Redford Park in Dungannon, denies murdering his girlfriend of two years, Charlotte Murray, between October 30 and November 2, 2012 when she allegedly disappeared from the Roxborough Heights home they shared in the Tyrone village of Moy.

Yesterday at Dungannon Crown Court defence QC Orlando Pownall asked the 48-year-old chef, who was in the witness box for the second day, if he was "anyway responsible for causing the death of Charlotte Murray" to which Miller replied: "No... definitely not."

Later in cross-examination by prosecution QC Richard Weir, he claimed that after an argument he had told Charlotte that this "isn't working, some one of us will have to leave the house".

"The whole thing was going down, down and down hill... the last straw," Mr Miller said.

However, as his questioning continued, taking him through the months, weeks and days before Charlotte allegedly went missing, Mr Weir accused Miller of "making up dates and lying to the jury".

"I didn't mean to lie... I got mixed up," said Mr Miller, who when questioned about his relationship with Charlotte and whether he was "inclined to say what suits" his case, replied: "I don't think so."

Earlier in his direct evidence his lawyer Mr Pownall put the various aspects of the prosecution case and the suggestions that may be outlined to him.

They included his online activity to find a new partner, to pawn Charlotte's engagement ring, and web searches for a double-headed axe, saw blades and cleaning materials; and allegedly keeping her phone to make bogus calls and texts following her disappearnce.

Mr Pownall initially put it to Mr Miller that "the suggestion may be made" he sent text messages from her phone knowing she was "either dead or severely injured... is there any truth in that suggestion?".

"No, not at all, no way," came the reply from Miller.

At another stage the defence lawyer asked him directly: "Did you have her phone, having killed her?" He said: "No."

Mr Miller went on to admit that in the days after she disappeared he went on a computer dating site, but denied there was "anything sinister in that", despite the prosecution case that he went online "having killed, murdered your girlfriend of two years".

He also accepted that about three weeks after having last seen Charlotte he was on the B&Q internet site looking up double-headed axes, saw blades and cleaning materials. Mr Miller claimed his father had been looking for a blade for a bow saw.

Again Mr Pownall said that this may be put forward by the prosecution in suggesting that "maybe you were looking... to get equipment to assist you to dispose of Charlotte Murray's body".

When asked if there was "any truth in that at all", Mr Miller rejected the suggestion, although he accepted he was no longer "in love with her", nor was he "worried about her" at that time.

Later Mr Miller claimed he was "devastated" when he was forced to leave his home while police forensically searched it.

The court also heard that in Miller's diary, in one entry he wrote of "crying his eyes out" with his mother on Charlotte's birthday, saying: "Where's Charlotte, she can't just disappear."

While in an earlier post he wrote: "I wish she would show up and sort all this."

He told the court that these notes were "all genuine" and never once did he "imagine when writing this that it would be read out in court".

The case continues on Monday.

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