01 November 2023

Murder suspect confessed to undercover officer, jury hears

01 November 2023

A pub chef suspected of murdering his ex-partner after blaming her for their child being taken into care confessed to an undercover police officer – telling him she was not “going to be seeing the light of day again”, a court heard.

Darren Osment, 41, is accused of killing 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.

Bristol Crown Court heard that when Osment came under suspicion detectives deployed an undercover officer to befriend him.

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, and enlisted the help of Osment.

In one secret recording 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.”

Patting his dog on the head, Osment goes on: “Innit mate she knows it all, innit mate. F****** pisses me of, f*** em.”

Giving evidence from behind a screen, Mr O’Hara told the jury Osment never spoke about Ms Holland in a positive way.

“He spoke about her in a very derogatory way. He would be quite abusive, and he referred to her as ‘the shit-c***’ or a ‘shit-c***’,” he said.

“He referred to her as being toxic and a devil. It was a very derogatory way in referring to her. He never referred to her by name.”

Mr O’Hara said when Osment spoke about Ms Holland he often gagged or had to vomit and said when he tried to sleep at night, he could see her face and “black eyes”.

The jury was played extracts of the many hours of undercover recordings in which Osment discusses what evidence detectives might have against him after he was arrested in March 2022 on suspicion of Ms Holland’s murder.

“He never gave me the real impression that he was entirely innocent,” Mr O’Hara said.

“He would talk about the lack of proof or evidence that could be got – that last piece of the jigsaw, referring to the body.”

In October 2021, Osment spoke about having problems with his memory from blows to the head from playing rugby.

“He said he had memory issues. Darren stated that it was dealt with, and he never wanted a kid with that c*** and this was a reference to Claire Holland.

“He said Claire Holland was a c*** and f****** horrible. Darren Osment said to me that she would never see the light of day again – don’t worry about that.”

Mr O’Hara said on occasion Osment said he had “done horrible f****** shit”.

“He explained that everything was done for a reason. He went on to explain that what he had done was probably wrong but what was done was done, and went on to explain he couldn’t turn the clock back.

“He spoke to me on many occasions about killing witnesses who gave statements against him.”

On another occasion Osment was “initially hesitant” to go into detail about Ms Holland’s murder, Mr O’Hara said.

“Regarding the details of what happened, he said didn’t want to insult my intelligence, and he mentioned knife work, and at the time he mentioned it he went across his torso swish, swish, swish with his hands, as if he was holding a knife,” he said.

The jury heard Mr O’Hara give examples of Osment losing his temper almost daily and threatening violence.

“I saw Darren Osment lose his temper on so many occasions with different people and animals and in the end it was another example of his short, fiery temper,” he said.

On one occasion he witnessed him “kicking and stamping” on his dog after it tried to get into the back of a van, instead of the front.

The undercover officer also witnessed Osment be verbally aggressive to his mother, and talk aggressively about a social worker involved with his family.

“He wanted to kill her. He wanted to kill her in front of her children, set her on fire,” Mr O’Hara said.

The court has heard the defendant and Ms Holland, who were both alcoholics, met in 2008, with a child being born in 2010 after she drank through pregnancy.

Osment told Mr O’Hara how he had assaulted Ms Holland after coming home from work to find her drunk looking after their child.

In a recording, Osment said: “This f****** dickhead Claire. I took [the child] away from her. Like her feet didn’t touch the floor. She went from the bedroom and she landed against the wall in the f****** doorway.

“Who drinks three bottles of f****** wine when they’re looking after a baby? She would have fallen down the stairs and f****** killed [the child].”

The defendant, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, South Gloucestershire, has pleaded not guilty to murder on a date between June 5 and June 8 2012.

The trial continues.

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