Charlotte Murray: Murder appeal hears uncertainty victim was dead

Charlotte Murray
Charlotte Murray was 34 when she was reported missing in 2012

A man jailed for killing his former fiancée should have been acquitted as her death was not confirmed, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Johnny Miller, 53, is attempting to overturn his conviction for murdering 34-year-old Charlotte Murray in 2012.

With her body never recovered, his barrister claimed the trial in 2019 wrongly continued without proof she was no longer alive.

The court was told of alleged subsequent sightings of Ms Murray.

It was also argued that that she could also have been killed by someone else in the intervening period.

Miller was convicted of killing Ms Murray at their home in County Tyrone.

'Other possibilities'

Desmond Hutton KC disputed the strength of the circumstantial evidence against Miller, contending there were reasonable alternative explanations for what might have happened to his ex-partner.

"That related to simply whether the court could be satisfied at the close of the prosecution case it was proven that she was dead," he said.

"Even if one accepted she was dead then in 2019, there were other possibilities between 2012 and 2019.

"She may have met that fate without having befallen her on that night that the applicant was alleged to have assaulted and killed her."

Johnny Miller
Johnny Miller denied murdering his fiancee Charlotte Murray

Ms Murray, who lived with Miller at Roxborough Heights in Moy, was last seen alive at Halloween in 2012.

Miller denied killing her and claimed she vanished after leaving him to start a new life.

But the prosecution argued he had sent text messages to Ms Murray to create a false impression she was still alive.

Mobile cell site analysis also showed her phone never left him following her alleged disappearance.

After a jury found him guilty of murder, Miller was ordered to serve a minimum 16 years of his life sentence behind bars.

Police later drained a quarry near Benburb to search for Ms Murray's body but nothing was found.

Last year detectives also urged Miller to break his silence and reveal the location of her remains.

The appeal continues.