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Editor's Viewpoint

Compel killers to surrender victims

Editor's Viewpoint

Charlotte Murray

It is virtually impossible to understand the depth of sorrow that the family of Charlotte Murray have endured over the past seven years. They have had to come to terms with the knowledge that the man she was engaged to killed her. That alone is an awful burden for them to shoulder.

But greater anguish was heaped on them by the callous behaviour of Charlotte's killer, Johnny Miller, in that her body has never been found.

The family and police repeatedly have called on Miller to tell them how and where he disposed of the body, but he has refused to give up his secret.

That has ensured that the family cannot find the closure that they so desperately yearn for. Seeing Miller convicted and jailed for life, with the judge saying he must serve at least 16 years before he can be considered for parole, the family have obtained justice, but that is not enough.

They are being denied the basic right of being able to bury Charlotte, to give her a grave that the family can visit and to feel that, in a way, she has come home at last.

Even the judicial process is not yet complete as Miller is appealing against his conviction and that will add further salt to the wounds of Charlotte's family until that court hearing is completed.

The judge, police and Charlotte's identical twin sister all pointed to the consequences of Miller's silence - how it was denying her family closure and the ability to properly grieve their loss.

It is suspected that Miller disposed of the body in an effort to cover his tracks and deny police any forensic evidence. If that was the case his refusal to give up the whereabouts of her remains is a cruel tactic which adds immeasurably to the suffering of the Murray family.

Many people will agree with Charlotte's sister Denise's call for local politicians to bring in a law compelling convicted killers like Miller to tell the authorities where they have hidden a body. In the absence of any such admission, parole would be denied.

That would be seen as justice and a proper penalty for those who would ensure that the suffering of the bereaved family would continue as long as they lived, not knowing where their loved one's body was hidden or how they died.

As the law stands, 49-year-old Miller could be released on parole at the age of 65. Under a new Charlotte's Law, quite rightly in the eyes of many, he would not be able to look forward to that.

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