UK

Chef found guilty of murdering former partner in 2012

A general view of police presence outside Bristol Crown Court, Small Street, Bristol.
A general view of police presence outside Bristol Crown Court, Small Street, Bristol. A general view of police presence outside Bristol Crown Court, Small Street, Bristol.

A pub chef has been convicted of murdering his ex-partner after blaming her for their child being taken into care, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Darren Osment, 41, killed Claire Holland, 32, in a drunken argument hours after she was last seen leaving a pub in the centre of Bristol in June 2012.

Despite extensive police investigations, the mother of four has never been seen since and her body never found.

Darren Osment has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Darren Osment has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA) Darren Osment has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Bristol Crown Court heard that when Osment fell under suspicion detectives deployed an undercover officer to befriend him who then recorded his repeated confessions to her murder.

Between December 2020 and July 2022, the officer – posing as a man called Paddy O’Hara – created a fiction of being involved in the criminal underworld with links to organised crime.

Following a two-month trial, Osment, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, South Gloucestershire, was found guilty of Ms Holland’s murder on a date between June 5 and June 8 2012.

During the trial, the court heard the undercover officer had witnessed many examples of Osment’s violent temper, particularly when drinking.

Andrew Langdon KC, prosecuting, 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.”

Claire Holland has not been seen alive since June 2012 (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)
Claire Holland has not been seen alive since June 2012 (Avon and Somerset Police/PA) Claire Holland has not been seen alive since June 2012 (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

Osment was convicted despite Ms Holland’s body never being found and there being no crime scene or forensic evidence linking the defendant to the murder.

What the police did have was evidence of several confessions Osment had made over the years in which he 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.

Mr Langdon said Osment had been “carrying the burden of knowing what he did to her” and had “sought to relieve himself of the burden” by making repeated confessions.

“He has, we suggest, never forgotten what he did to Claire,” he said.

“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, who were both alcoholics, met in 2008 when they worked together in a cafe and began a relationship with a child being 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.

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.

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

“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.”

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.”