Killer's refusal to disclose location of Charlotte Murray's body compounds family's pain

The man convicted of murdering Charlotte Murray was given a 16-year jail term yesterday but his victim's family have been left with a lifelong sentence of grief and loss, without even the comfort of a grave to visit.

Despite extensive searches, the body of the 34-year-old woman, who disappeared in 2012, has never been found.

Johnny Miller (49) of Redford Park, Dungannon, was found guilty last October of killing his former fiancée.

During the four-week trial, the jury heard how Miller murdered Ms Murray in a rage when sent explicit images of herself in the arms of another man.

Miller's claims Ms Murray had left to take up a job in Belfast, leaving him her car and her beloved dog, were described by the judge as an 'elaborate ruse'.

Sentencing Miller yesterday, Judge Stephen Fowler commended the police for their thorough investigation but said her disappearance also made it impossible to say how Ms Murray had died or what injuries she suffered.

The judge acknowledged the fact that her body has not been recovered has had a devastating impact on her family.

He told Miller he would serve a minimum of 16 years before being considered for release but Ms Murray's family went further, calling for a change in the law so that killers cannot be freed until they give up their victims' bodies.

The situation facing the relatives of Charlotte Murray is truly appalling.

They have seen her murderer brought before the courts and jailed but they don't have the consolation of giving their daughter and sister a Christian burial, a final resting place they can visit and lay flowers.

In such dreadful circumstances, it is extremely difficult for a family to properly mourn their loved one.

Ms Murray's twin sister, Denise, yesterday appealed to local politicians to take steps to deny parole unless murderers disclose the location of their victims.

The British government has backed similar legislation following a campaign by the mother of Helen McCourt, who was murdered in England in 1988 and whose body has never been found.

It is cruel in the extreme to withhold such information but if killers fail to cooperate then that should be given due consideration by the authorities before they are released back into society.