20 December 2023

Chef who admitted killing ex-partner to undercover officer to be sentenced

20 December 2023

A pub chef who was caught on camera confessing to killing his ex-partner to an undercover police officer is to be sentenced.

Claire Holland was last seen leaving a pub in Bristol on the evening of June 6 2012.

In July 2019, Darren Osment called 999 and confessed to police saying “I had her killed”, but he was released under investigation after later denying it in an interview.

Due to a lack of supporting evidence, in 2020 an undercover officer was deployed to befriend Osment – an operation which lasted 20 months during which his repeated confessions to her murder were recorded.

And last week, more than 11 years since the 32-year-old victim was last seen – and despite her body never being found and there being no crime scene or forensic evidence – Osment was convicted of her murder at Bristol Crown Court.

The jury was told Osment blamed Ms Holland for their child being taken into care and killed her in a drunken argument hours after she was last seen in June 2012.

Police have now released footage showing Osment, 41, telling the officer – posing as a man called Paddy O’Hara – about what had happened to Ms Holland, suggesting he had killed her, cut up her body with a knife and dumped her remains in water.

Between December 2020 and July 2022, the officer created a fiction of being involved in the criminal underworld with links to organised crime and spent many hours with Osment playing pool or snooker, going for walks or engaging in supposed criminality.

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

In one recorded clip, Osment told the officer: “Mate, I trust you like a f****** brother… it’s just, I don’t f****** cast my mind back to what I had to f******, do you know what I mean, it’s not f****** pleasant bro. It was f****** horrible.”

He tells him in another clip: “And then, I just mate just I, you know, it’s what it is, but it’s all, all done, done and dusted, all the f****** work, clothes burnt outside, f****** everything’s gone, everything’s gone.”

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

Osment tells the officer: “The time it happened there was a massive overflow.

“There was a load of f****** water, and it came rushing down, I know the f****** route it comes down, and I think it’s just f******… cause it’s such little bits.

“It’s all f****** weighed, it’s all down, it’s not going to come floating back up.”

The investigation team were unaware of the undercover officer’s deployment until July 2022, when a decision was made to re-arrest Osment, after which he was charged with Ms Holland’s murder, senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Darren Hannant said previously.

Mr Hannant said: “The evidence and recorded footage gathered by the officer exposed Osment’s disturbing and hateful character and most importantly, details about the murder that otherwise would have remained unknown.”

The jury heard evidence that Osment, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, 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.

After Osment was charged with murder and remanded in custody, he allegedly told a fellow inmate about Ms Holland’s death.

The inmate reported: “During the argument, Claire struck Darren. In retaliation Darren Osment grabbed Claire by the throat and took her down to the floor.

“Darren spoke and gestured that he pushed Claire down to the floor, on her neck and gestured with his hands that he was choking her. Darren said, ‘By the time I’d let go, she was gone’.”

Osment denied murdering Ms Holland, from Lawrence Weston, and claimed the confessions were the ramblings of a “drunken idiot”.

Mother-of-four Ms Holland was reported missing on June 14 2012, sparking a police investigation which included a city-wide CCTV trawl, underwater searches, house-to-house inquiries, financial and mobile phone checks, as well as publicity and media appeals.

Statements were taken from family members, all former partners, professionals who had contact with her, and pub customers.

In the space of four months, more than 200 investigative actions were carried out, but no evidence could be found to indicate what happened to Ms Holland after she vanished.

During the trial, the jury heard from witnesses, including a former partner and a former work colleague, to whom Osment had disclosed key details of the crime.

They also heard the confession in Osment’s own words, which he made after calling 999 in July 2019.

He told the operator: “I’m handing myself in… not a good look for me, it’s murder,” and added “I took the law into my own hands”.

When officers located him, recording the interaction on body-worn video, he told them “I had her killed”, adding “I just want to get it off my back and I put my hands up, I’ve had enough now, do you know what I mean? What will be, will be”.

After July 2019, when Osment phoned 999 to make a confession, Ms Holland’s disappearance was treated as a murder investigation.

Following an 11-week trial, last week Osment was found guilty by a majority verdict of murdering Ms Holland.

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