Northern Ireland

Charlotte Murray family appeal to her killer Johnny Miller to tell them where her body is buried

Johnny Miller has been jailed for 16 years
Johnny Miller has been jailed for 16 years Johnny Miller has been jailed for 16 years

THE family of Charlotte Murray appealed to her former fiancé, who was jailed for 16 years for her murder, to tell them where her body is buried.

As Johnny Miller was told he would serve a minimum of 16 years, Ms Murray's family said there should be a law in her name to stop the release of killers until they do ''the decent honourable thing'' and give up their victims' bodies.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC told the former chef he would serve the minimum life term before being considered for release by parole commissioners for murdering Ms Murray in October/November 2012.

The 49-year-old, from Redford Park, Dungannon, who has already lodge an appeal against conviction, was unanimously found guilty last October, just weeks before the seventh anniversary of the 34-year-old's disappearance.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Fowler acknowledged the devastating impact on the victim's family that her body has never been recovered.

Judge Fowler, who said the police should be commended for their "thorough and painstaking investigation", said her disappearance also made it impossible to say how she died, what injuries she suffered and that the reason behind it he was satisfied was "to evade detection and destroy evidence".

Outside the Tyrone courthouse, Ms Murray's family appealed for a change in the law.

Speaking on behalf of her mother and brothers, Ms Murray's twin sister Denise said: "No family should have to suffer like this. We should not be denied the right to be able to bury our sister Charlotte, to mourn her and to lay flowers on her grave.

"We would also like to ask our local politicians to bring into place a Charlotte's law to compel murderers such as Mr Miller to divulge the location of their victims, failing this they do not stand a chance of parole."

And in a direct appeal to Miller, they asked him "to tell us where Charlotte's body is and to let us bring Charlotte home. We want to say our goodbyes in peace,", describing his continued silence as "a cruel suffering he has put upon us, especially our mum.

"You had a fair trial Mr Miller, give it up and let us know what you have done with Charlotte."

During his four-week trial the jury heard how Miller murdered Charlotte in a rage when sent explicit images of herself in the arms of another man. It was, said prosecution QC Richard Weir, "the last straw ... a last humiliation...being shown to be a cuckold".

In answer to the claims, Miller maintained that she simply left their Roxborough Heights, in The Moy, to take up a job in Belfast, leaving him her car, which he sold to pay off her debts to him, and her beloved dog Bella to look after.

However yesterday Judge Fowler dismissed his claims as little more than "an elaborate ruse to put her family and police off their enquiries" by creating a false trail of messages "to suggest she was alive, in communication with him, living in Belfast and had made arrangement to collect her things".

"This," added the judge, "was further evidence of his actions to evade detections and prosecution".

The judge also acknowledged the devastating impact that not finding Ms Murray's body has had on her family.

"This has caused and will continue to cause the family considerable pain, distress and hurt," he said.

"I regard this as the most serious aggravating feature of this case."

Welcoming yesterday's sentencing Hazel Edmondson, senior public prosecutor for the Public Prosecution Service, paid tribute to Ms Murray's family and described the case as a "particularly complex case to prosecute".

"While Charlotte's family, including her mother Mary and twin sister Denise, continue to try to cope with the loss of their much loved daughter and sister, the fact that they have not been able to lay her to rest is a source of great distress for her family.

"While nothing can bring Charlotte back, we hope that this guilty verdict will bring some measure of comfort to them."

Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan also appealed to Miller to "do the decent thing."

“I am appealing directly to Johnny Miller. Johnny imagine it is your mother standing where Charlotte’s mother Mary stands today. Not able to lay her child to rest. Do the decent thing, end this suffering and tell us where Charlotte is.

“It’s possible other people also know where Charlotte’s body is or what happened to her. If you do, come forward now with the information as we need to bring Charlotte home to her family. It is the honourable thing to do and is the very least Charlotte’s family deserve."