Belfast Telegraph

Murder accused wept after police visited about Charlotte Murray 'disappearance,' court told

Charlotte with John Patrick Miller
Charlotte with John Patrick Miller

The Co Tyrone chef accused of murdering his former fiance Charlotte Murray nearly seven years ago broke down and wept in front of a friend after police visited the home they'd shared before her alleged disappearance, his trial has heard.

Dungannon Crown Court also heard that 48-year-old John 'Johnny' Patrick Miller had also been "concerned" over her alleged disappearance, and until the police visit six months later, there had been no change in his behavour.

The second day of his trial was also told the Charlotte herself had told one friend she was "leaving at the end of the month" and had allegedly texted another that she was "going away".

Miller, originally from Coleraine, but with an address in Redford Park, Dungannon, denies murdering the 34-year-old Omagh woman on a date between October 31 and November 2, 2012.

The prosecution claim that while "no body has been recovered" and Charlotte has "not been seen or heard from since - the evidence points to her being dead and that John Miller killed her".

Anthony Girvan, a barman who worked along with Miller and Charlotte in the Cohannon Inn near Coalisland, described him as "hard working - never aggressive or angry", while she appeared  "a very quiet girl who kept herself to herself", but became very "talkative" in drink.

Mr Girvan later agreed that it had been Charlotte who had proposed to Miller in 2012, a leap year, but that after her alleged disappearance, her engagement ring was left behind. Miller, he said, had also told them their "relationship had come to an end" and that "she had become very hard to live with".

In cross-examination from defence QC Orlando Pownall, the barman agreed that after police visited the Roxborough Heights home in The Moy, the couple had shared, "he became rely upset".

Earlier that day, in May 2013, Charlotte's identical twin Denise, and one of her brothers had been to police in Omagh to report she had been missing for up to six months.

Mr Girvan agreed that he told police in interview that after officers had gone to the house, Miller "became very upset and was crying and saying - I didn't harm her".

Denies killing: John Miller
Denies killing: John Miller

He also accepted that Miller told him he had received Facebook messages from members of Charlotte's family, and that he advised him to report the matter to the police.

Miller, he said, "wasn't a jealous person", and that after Charlotte's alleged disappearance, he "continued to look after her dog and was extremely found of the dog  - and while he wanted to travel, he would not leave the dog".

Earlier a friend of Charlotte, Michelle Watts, also confirmed that Miller was "very concerned about her as well as myself”, when she left after allegedly texting her "I'm going away. Be good”.

She said that while she was "very shocked to see the text, I felt she was just moving on with her life, but I was still very shocked".

Ms Watts later told the defence that while the text was a "bolt out of the blue", Charlotte, who in drink could be volitile and unpredictable, did not appear to be "happy with her life and her work - she just wanted to be happy".

Charlotte had also told her that "Johnny and her were actually splitting up", and that the "impression she got was a person, someone who wanted a new life".

The two sisters together
The two sisters together

In statements to police Ms Watts also said that to her Charlotte's dog Bella, "was a added pressure to Charlotte and maybe she wanted a clean hassle free break".

A publican in the Co Tyrone village of The Moy, who'd a brief affair with Charlotte, said she had told him she was "leaving at the end of the month", and while both she and Miller had separately reported that their "relationship was at an end .... there was no anger or unfriendliness between them".

The court also heard that after Charlotte had allegedly left, the publican and texted her to say if she didn't get back to him "I'm getting the police to check you out".  However, he said he only sent the text in the hope of getting a response from her, and although he got no reply, he didn't go to the police - "I didn't see the need to".

Charlotte Murray
Charlotte Murray

Earlier Charlotte's eldest sister and brother told the court how they had not seen her for a year and a half to two years before the family reported her missing to police.  They described her as pleasant and helpful, but accepted she could change while drinking.

They also confirmed that at times Charlotte would disappear without telling anyone, and on one occasion even went abroad on holiday without saying.

Her brother Aiden who said that Charlotte could disappear "for weeks", however agreed with prosecution QC Rishard Weir, while this maybe the case, his sister had "never disappeared for years".

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