Chef who confessed to murdering his ex to an undercover police officer jailed for life

20 December 2023, 14:58 | Updated: 20 December 2023, 15:17

A pub chef convicted of murdering his former partner has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years.
A pub chef convicted of murdering his former partner has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

By Emma Soteriou

A pub chef who confessed to murdering his ex to an undercover police officer has been jailed for life.

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Darren Osment, 41, killed mother-of-four Claire Holland, 32, who was last seen leaving a pub in Bristol on the evening of June 6 2012. Her body has never been recovered.

The case was treated as a missing person's inquiry for seven years until Osment rang 999 while in Exeter, Devon, in July 2019, claiming he had arranged for Ms Holland to be killed.

He was arrested and interviewed under caution for two days, then released under investigation after denying any involvement in her disappearance.

In 2020, Avon and Somerset Police sent in an undercover officer - who went by the name Paddy O'Hara - to befriend Osment and find out what happened to Ms Holland.

The undercover investigation, between December 2020 and July 2022, saw the officer pose as someone involved in the criminal underworld with links to organised crime.

His conversations with Osment were covertly recorded, amounting to more than 1,200 hours of footage - including repeated confessions relating to Ms Holland from the father-of-two.

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Man convicted of the murder of Claire Holland

Osment was arrested and charged with Ms Holland's murder in August 2022.

He pleaded not guilty to the offence but was convicted by a jury at Bristol Crown Court by a majority verdict last week.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mrs Justice Cutts sentenced Osment to life and ordered him to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.

In victim personal statements read to the court, the family of Ms Holland appealed to Osment to reveal where her remains were so they could lay her to rest.

Ms Holland's daughter, Rosie Holland-Hall, said: "You will never understand the harm you have caused to me.

"I will never forgive you for what you have done and the damage you have caused."

Darren Osment
Darren Osment. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Osment and Ms Holland, described as alcoholics at the time, had met in 2008 and had a child two years later.

During the trial, Andrew Langdon KC told the jury that 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.

Mr Langdon said it was believed that Osment had strangled Ms Holland before disposing of her body in water, though only Osment himself knew "the manner of her death and how her body was disposed of".

In footage from the undercover investigation, Osment is shown suggesting to Mr O'Hara that he had killed Ms Holland, cut her body up with a knife, and dumped her remains in water.

One clip captured the moment Osment said: "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."

Osment appears to suggest he weighted down Ms Holland's remains so they would not come "floating back".

Mr Langdon told jurors how Osment, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, had confessed to six different people including a former girlfriend, her brother, friends, the 999 call handler, Mr O'Hara and a prison inmate after his arrest.

The prisoner 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'."

Detective Superintendent Darren Hannant, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "The undercover officer put his safety at risk to expose Osment's offending.

"He spent hours in his company and in doing so, was able to gather vital evidence to achieve justice for Claire and her family.

"The covert material showed Osment's actions on the night, and how the reality of what he had done had affected him.

"He was both disgusted by, and felt justification for, his actions, and on one occasion was physically sick when he saw a televised police appeal for witnesses."

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