Belfast Telegraph

Murder victim Charlotte Murray ‘wanted to get back with an old flame before disappearance’

Charlotte Murray
Charlotte Murray

By Michael Donnelly

The trial of a Co Tyrone chef accused of murdering his former fiancee has heard she was attempting to rekindle a relationship with another man in the months before she disappeared.

The details emerged during the third day of the trial of John Patrick Miller, who is alleged to have killed Charlotte Murray in 2012.

Yesterday, a friend who had a previous relationship with Charlotte recalled being sent text messages by her, saying she was leaving and going to work in Belfast, where he lived.

However, the events organiser told the jury of eight men and four women at Dungannon Crown Court that by that stage he was already in a relationship and had simply "wanted to remain friends".

Miller, originally from Coleraine, but with an address in Redford Park, Dungannon, denies murdering Ms Murray on a date between October 31 and November 2, 2012.

The man said Charlotte had told him by text of getting engaged and "in the text she seemed pretty happy with him" (Mr Miller) ... and that she also told him that "Mr Miller was a calming influence on her".

However, during 2012, "that changed", he said, and in one text she complained of "not being totally happy with the relationship and did indicate was there maybe a chance of meeting up for a drink".

The man replied: "I was in a relationship then so I said no."

He claimed the last he heard from her was at Halloween 2012 when he got three texts in a row.

He said it was unusual to get so many one after the other, although later in cross-examination he accepted that on one occasion he had received 22 straight texts from Charlotte.

He also said that Mr Miller had once telephoned him to warn him to keep away from Charlotte.

Although he had cursed once during the call, he sounded calm and in similar circumstances if it had been him, he might have made a similar call, the court heard.

"He was calm on the phone," the man said, adding that "his tone wasn't raised".

In cross-examination he accepted that Charlotte may have told him she was thinking of leaving The Moy village in Co Tyrone where she and Mr Miller had a home in Roxborough Heights, and that "she was trying for a job in Belfast".

He said that he later learned that "she and Mr Miller had split up".

When it was put to him that Charlotte's intention was "to move to Belfast where you were living, and hoping to hitch up with you", he said that Charlotte was never one for commitment and was wanting "a more casual thing, she wanted to rekindle something, something with me on a casual basis".

He said that with Charlotte there was always a "flurry of activity" and then nothing, and that you might not hear from her for a period of over eight months or more.

However, he accepted that while contact between them "was always sporadic, it was always resumed, that is until 2012".

He said he only found out that Charlotte was missing after a phone call from police.

The court also heard from the owner of the Cohannon Inn where Charlotte and Mr Miller worked. Karen Bowe said Charlotte had last worked on October 29, 2012, and was later told by Mr Miller she would not be returning to work.

Ms Bowe described Charlotte as "reliable and hard working", and that Mr Miller was regarded as a "very good and valued employee ... very level headed and (unlike some chefs)".

The hotel owner said while Mr Miller had been off work on October 31 to November 2, there was nothing unusual in that, "not a change in plan" as she had been the one who had set out the shift work for that week.

She said that after Charlotte had left, Mr Miller had continued working as he had always done and that there was "absolutely no change in him", until police had contacted him, and he became "extremely upset" and that "it appeared to be genuine ... oh yes".

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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