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UPDATED WITH SENTENCE: Violent abuser who murdered ex-partner and disposed of her body is convicted

|News, Violent crime


Darren Osment has today been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 20 years at Bristol Crown Court.

Ben Samples, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: "This has been a tragic case from start to finish. My immediate thoughts must go to Claire’s family for having to live through this painful ordeal without a treasured daughter, sister and mother.

"I would like to thank the perseverance of the Holland family for trusting both the Crown Prosecution Service, and the police, to secure justice for your family.

"Thanks must also go to our expert prosecutors and our partners in the Major Crime Investigation Team – whose combined, painstaking efforts ensured we were able to present an overwhelming case against Osment in the absence of conventional physical evidence.

"Special mention must be made of the covert police operation which snared Osment. The skill and bravery of the undercover officer must be commended and their role in both the investigation and eventual conviction of Osment is a testament to the excellence demonstrated by our police partners standing before you today.

"12 years ago, Claire was brutally murdered by a man whose shackles she was just starting to break free from. This case has been a poignant reminder that violence against women and girls is a reality that far too many still face in our society.

"Osment will now face the full consequences of his actions and that begins with a lengthy prison sentence. I hope he is able to reflect on the cruelty of his actions, with a particular focus on his cowardly decision to refuse to share details of where Claire’s body is."

An abusive boyfriend who murdered his former partner and disposed of her body more than a decade ago has today been convicted of her murder.

Darren Osment, 44, of Bristol, was found guilty of the murder of Claire Holland following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Claire was last seen alive at Seamus O’Donnell’s pub, Bristol, on Wednesday June 6, 2012. Her body has never been recovered.

The Crown Prosecution Service worked with Avon and Somerset Police to build a compelling case against Osment and secure a conviction despite the absence of any physical evidence from the victim’s body.

A mugshot of former chef Darren Osment
Darren Osment, 44, who has been found guilty of the murder of his ex-partner Claire Holland.

This included using evidence from an undercover police operation and piecing together comments made by Osment to associates spanning nearly a decade to prove only he could have carried out the crime.

The investigation also involved carrying out complex ‘proof of life’ enquiries to rule out the possibility Claire was still alive – searching bank records, social media posts and flight records – and convince the jury Osment was guilty of murder.

Ben Samples, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “This was a heinous crime and Claire’s family have endured over a decade of pain as Osment sought to conceal his crimes by weaving a web of deceit, all while cruelly refusing to provide any information which would help locate Claire’s body.

“Murder cases where a body has not yet been recovered are notoriously complex, because it is harder to prove a murder has been committed and there is less evidence to pin the crime to a suspect – so prosecutors must think outside the box.

“Piece by piece, we worked with police to present a compelling case to the jury which made clear that this was ‘foul play’ and that only Osment had the motive to commit murder.

“We know that today’s result won’t bring Claire back, but we hope that knowing justice has been served will bring comfort to her family as they continue to grieve her loss.”

On the day before her disappearance, phone records show two separate calls were made between Claire and Osment – while witnesses confirmed she was planning to meet up with Osment on the night of June 6, 2012.

CCTV showed Claire’s last known moments were of her drinking and socialising in Seamus O’Donnell’s and she left the pub shortly after closing time.

There have been no confirmed sightings of Claire, and never been any activity on her bank account, social media, phone company or borders and flight information since 6 June 2012.

These were among the opportunities for police to carry out ‘proof of life’ enquiries, none of which ever resulted in any evidence that Claire is alive.

Osment had made a number of admissions to associates in the years following Claire’s sudden disappearance. These admissions, in addition to evidence collected by an undercover police officer and Avon and Somerset Police’s ‘proof of life’ enquiries, formed the bedrock of the CPS’s case against Osment.

In 2014, Osment admitted to a work colleague that he was furious with Claire for “keeping me away from my boy.” At the time, Osment said he strangled her to death and disposed of the body in Bristol.

In another conversation in 2018, the defendant claimed he paid someone £500 to execute the mother of his child. A 999 call Osment made to police in July 2019 recorded him admitting to having Claire’s murder arranged after he blamed her for having their child taken by social services.

The final piece of the puzzle came during a complex operation by Avon and Somerset Police, where an undercover officer posed as a business partner and later a friend for more than 20 months and covertly recorded their conversations.

Throughout the undercover operation, Osment would share snippets of the evening of June 6, 2012, including what happened to Claire. These culminated in an admission of killing her and disposing of the body.

Osment first met Claire while working as a chef in the same café as her in 2008 and they began a relationship together.

The pair had their first child together in 2010, but a little over a month later, relations between them soured. Social workers soon became involved, and their son was placed into foster care – a fact that Darren repeatedly and wrongly blamed Claire for.

After their relationship ended, Osment admitted to friends that he would lose his temper and beat Claire, and on one occasion did so in such a violent manner that she fell down the stairs.

In other instances, Osment would verbally abuse Claire and spit at her. He would also humiliate her in front of his family.

During the undercover operation, Osment revealed his true character to the undercover officer. He would often physically attack and threaten strangers, carried makeshift weapons with him and once brutally attacked his dog that got in the way of his van.

He also admitted to forcing his new girlfriend to lie about the extent of her injuries when questioned and of threatening to torture and kill the social worker who was overseeing another of his children’s cases.

Osment’s final confession came while on remand in prison this year. He told a fellow inmate in considerable detail how he had strangled Claire to death and disposed of her body.

In painting the picture of Osment’s aggressive and violent nature, as well as highlighting the consistency of his accounts of those who heard him admit to murdering Claire, the prosecution successfully argued that only Osment could be behind the murder.

Today, he was found guilty of murder at Bristol Crown Court.

Detective Superintendent Darren Hannant, Senior Investigating Officer at Avon and Somerset Police added: “The evidence we’ve gathered painstakingly over the last four years has proven that Osment is a selfish and violent misogynist who has abused almost everyone he has been close to.

“Our investigation found he’d made repeated confessions to others about his involvement in Claire’s murder, but because of a lack of supporting evidence, a decision was made to obtain authorisation for the deployment of an undercover officer, with the express aim of uncovering the truth about Claire’s disappearance, and in the hope of finding her body.

“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.

“This operation required the careful coordination of many aspects of covert policing and frequent consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that tactics were applied to fairly obtain admissible evidence.

“Due to the real risks posed to the officer in the event of the operation being compromised, the investigation team were unaware of the deployment until July 2022, when a decision was made to re-arrest Osment, after which he was charged with Claire’s murder.

“The evidence gathered by the undercover officer, along with the witness evidence, phone data, and missing person investigation records, proved that Osment was responsible for this crime.

“We discovered he had lured Claire to the pub where he worked as a chef in Clifton on the evening of Wednesday 6 June, 2012. He killed her and then disposed of her body, we believe most likely in water. He got rid of the physical evidence, through burning his clothes and disposing of a knife he claimed to have used.

“It was a brutal and pre-meditated crime motivated by his intense hatred of Claire, who he blamed for having their child taken into care.

“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.”

Notes to editors

  • Ben Samples is a Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West
  • Darren Osment [16/01/1982] was found guilty of murder following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

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