Belfast Telegraph

Pauline Carmichael murder: Ex-soldier accused allegedly said he was 'going to throw her off the bridge', court hears

By Paul Higgins

A former soldier accused of murdering his father's partner whose body was found in Lough Neagh allegedly told friends he was "going to throw her off the bridge" after she called police to eject him from her home, a judge heard today.

During an unsuccessful bail application at Ballymena Magistrates Court, District Judge Des Perry also heard claims that 37-year-old Alan Norman Foster had been spotted carrying the body of his alleged victim Pauline Carmichael "over his shoulder" and that he told friends he was going back with paint thinners "to burn the body."

Foster, with an address at the property he shared with 61-year-old Ms Carmichael at Hillside in Antrim, denies her murder on February 23 this year.

Ms Carmichael, a mother and grandmother who was originally from Ballyclare but who had been living in Antrim, went missing from the property she shared with her alleged killer at around 10pm, sparking a widespread police search.

Police officers using sniffer dogs had been scouring the area around the Six Mile River and her body was recovered around a mile from her home at Antrim's Lough Shore Park by police investigating the 61-year-old's disappearance.

She had been wearing pink fleecy pyjama bottoms, a white fleece pyjama top and a red hoody when she disappeared.

Detective Constable Beattie revealed that a driver who was crossing the Belmont Bridge close to Ms Carmichael's home saw a man matching Foster's description "throwing a body over the railings of the bridge" while a second driver "saw a male throwing an object which appeared to be red in colour over the bridge."

He added that it was only when the witnesses saw media reports of the pensioner's disappearance that they "put two and two together" and reported their observations to police.

Their alleged observations came around half an hour after cops had ejected an "extremely irate" Foster and his friends from Ms Carmichael's flat but they hung around a neighbouring flat and when police left the scene, Foster allegedly "re-entered the property."

"Evidence has been obtained that he left the flat a short time later carrying her over his shoulder and said to his friends that he was going to throw her over the bridge," claimed the cop adding that Foster returned 15 minutes later "without Pauline Carmichael" and he allegedly told his friends he had "thrown her over the bridge."

Inside the property Foster allegedly changed his clothes and shoes before leaving again, this time carrying a blanket and paint thinners, telling his friends he "had to go back to burn the body."

The detective said that according to witness statements, Foster returned again and allegedly reported that "her body was gone - it must have floated away" and when asked about blood on his left hand, told his friends that Ms Carmichael had "scratched him and he had punched her and kneed her."

The following day, claimed the detective, Foster contacted a male friend to ask for help in searching the river for her body but the friend refused.

It was just before 6pm that day when a neighbour told police she was concerned for Ms Carmichael because on the previous evening, "she had seen her stepson carrying Pauline over his shoulder and had not seen her since."

Detective Beattie said a post-mortem examination discovered that Ms Carmichael had died as a result of drowning and that she had also sustained a broken bone in her throat as well as multiple rib fractures.

He told the court that although Foster had proposed a bail address in Lisburn, police were objecting to bail amid concerns that he would interfere with witnesses, some of whom would be his "associates" or known to him.

Under cross examination from defence barrister Aaron Thompson, the detective agreed that Foster had claimed he had broken up a fight between Ms Carmichael and his father David Foster and also that police had been called to the property on two other occasions that night.

He submitted there are "triable issues in the case" and that ex-squaddie Foster could be released under the "strictest of conditions".

Refusing the bail application however, Judge Perry said the case against Foster was "made to of a number of building blocks and if there's any danger whatsoever of those being disturbed and interfered with, I'm not prepared to consider bail."

Foster was ordered to appear again on July 28 via videolink.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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