Pub chef killed former partner before confessing | UK | News

December 12, 2023
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Darren Osment

Darren Osment has been found guilty of murdering his ex-partner (Image: Avon and Somerset Police)

A pub chef has been found guilty of murdering his ex-partner more than a decade ago.

Darren Osment, 41, murdered Claire Holland, 32, in a drunken argument hours after she was seen leaving a pub in Bristol in June 2012. Despite extensive police searches, the mum-of-four’s body has never been found.

Bristol Crown Court heard a police officer even went undercover to befriend Osment and film his confessions as part of their investigation. Between 2020 and June 2022, the officer posed as Paddy O’Hare, creating a story linking himself to the criminal underworld and organised gang activity.

Osment, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, South Gloucestershire, has now been found guilty of murder by a majority verdict after an 11-week trial. The trial heard how the undercover officer saw many examples of Osment’s “violent” temper after he had been drinking.

CCTV of Claire Holland

CCTV showing Ms Holland before her ex-partner killed her (Image: SWNS)

Prosecutor Andrew Langdon KC, said: “That is relevant because we suggest that when he met with Claire Holland that night, he is likely to have lost his temper, lost control of himself and in using unrestrained violence he killed her.

“In other words, he is a man with an explosive temper with a propensity to use violence when angry, including to those who are weaker and more vulnerable than he.”

With Claire’s body never being found, there was no crime scene or forensic evidence linking Osment to her death. Police had however had evidence that Osment had confessed to the crime a number of times over the years.

Osment claimed to have strangled Ms Holland, dismembered her body, and dumped her remains in the River Avon. The jury heard evidence that Osment had confessed to six different people, including a former girlfriend, her brother, friends, a 999 call handler, Mr O’Hara and finally a prison inmate.

The jury heard evidence that Osment had confessed to six different people, including a former girlfriend, her brother, friends, a 999 call handler, Mr O’Hara and finally a prison inmate.

Darren Osment

Osment was filmed confessing to the murder by an undercover police officer (Image: Avon and Somerset Police/SWNS)

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Mr Langdon said Osment confessed because he was “carrying the burden of knowing what he did to her” and had “sought to relieve himself of the burden”. He said: “He has, we suggest, never forgotten what he did to Claire.

“He has always been haunted by the memory of it and that weight, the trauma of that memory, has taken a considerable toll upon him.”

Osment and Ms Holland met in 2008 when they worked together in a cafe. They began a relationship and their first child was born in 2010.

Their relationship was marred by allegations of alcohol-fuelled domestic violence and the child was placed in foster care. Following Ms Holland’s disappearance, police launched a missing persons inquiry.

Claire Holland

Claire Holland (Image: SWNS)

They began re-investigating in 2019 after Osment, who by this time was living in Devon, dialled 999 and admitted killing Ms Holland. The following year the undercover operation began and the officer would spend many hours with Osment playing pool or snooker, going for walks or engaging in supposed criminality.

Jurors were played several of the recordings of their interactions, with Osment confiding in Mr O’Hara about what had happened to Ms Holland, discussing alibis and potentially trying to blame other people.

In one Osment tells the officer: “Yeah because of what she did, f****** c*** mate, f*** her. End of, f*** em, she ain’t going to be seeing the light of day again, don’t worry about that.”

In another, Osment said that as a trained chef he has “knife skills” and ran his hand across his torso while making a swishing sound to indicate he had cut up Ms Holland’s body and then weighted her down in water.

Osment said: “Like I said, I’m not going to go into any details, I did what I did, I did what I done and….

“It makes me feel sick. But I did it for (my child). Cause she harmed my f****** child. And how they were brought up is f****** wrong.”

They began re-investigating in 2019 after Osment, who by this time was living in Devon, dialled 999 and admitted killing Ms Holland.

The following year the undercover operation began and the officer would spend many hours with Osment playing pool or snooker, going for walks or engaging in supposed criminality.

Darren Osment Arrested

Police captured the moment Osment was arrested (Image: Avon and Somerset Police/SWNS)

Osment denied murdering Ms Holland and claimed the confessions were the ramblings of a “drunken idiot”. Explaining why he made them, he told the jury: “Drinking too much, trying to big myself up, make myself out to be something I am not … the combination of the three.

“Again, I haven’t got a proper explanation.”

Ben Samples, senior district Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “This was a heinous crime and Claire’s family have endured over a decade of pain as Osment sought to conceal his crimes by weaving a web of deceit, all while cruelly refusing to provide any information which would help locate Claire’s body.”

Detective Superintendent Darren Hannant, senior investigating officer at Avon and Somerset Police, said it was “a brutal and premeditated crime motivated by his intense hatred of Claire”. He explained the team investigating were unaware of the undercover officer in a bid to keep his activity covert.

He explained: “Due to the real risks posed to the officer in the event of the operation being compromised, the investigation team were unaware of the deployment until July 2022, when a decision was made to re-arrest Osment, after which he was charged with Claire’s murder.

“We discovered he had lured Claire to the pub where he worked as a chef in Clifton on the evening of Wednesday June 6, 2012. He killed her and then disposed of her body, we believe most likely in water. He got rid of the physical evidence, through burning his clothes and disposing of a knife he claimed to have used.”

Osment is due to be sentenced on December 20 at Bristol Crown Court.

Ben Samples, senior district Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “This was a heinous crime and Claire’s family have endured over a decade of pain as Osment sought to conceal his crimes by weaving a web of deceit, all while cruelly refusing to provide any information which would help locate Claire’s body.



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