A pub chef who was caught on camera confessing to killing his ex-partner to an undercover police officer has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years imprisonment.

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. 

Osment called 999 seven years later and appeared to confess to the killings – but a lack of evidence prompted Avon and Somerset police to authorise an undercover investigation, in which he then admitted the killing to a plainclothes officer.

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, told Osment: ‘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, 41, on a body cam talking to the undercover officer on June 15, 2022

A mugshot of Osment who will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on December 20

A mugshot of Osment who will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on December 20 

Mother-of-four Claire Holland disappeared from Bristol city centre in 2012. She has never been found

Mother-of-four Claire Holland disappeared from Bristol city centre in 2012. She has never been found

Ms Holland’s half-sister Michaela Holland also told the court the family had finally achieved justice for her.

‘Darren, I want you to know that you have destroyed our family,’ she told Osment. ‘We have so many questions. What were her last words, did she see it coming? If you have got it in your heart, please tell us where she is. We just want to lay her to rest.’

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 Osment himself knew ‘the manner of her death and how her body was disposed of’.

After 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 Ms Holland’s disappearance.

In 2020, Avon and Somerset Police decided to send in an undercover officer – who went by the name Paddy O’Hara – to befriend Osment, then living in Patchway, Bristol, 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.

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.

CCTV of Ms Holland's last moments before she disappeared without a trace in 2012

CCTV of Ms Holland's last moments before she disappeared without a trace in 2012

CCTV of Ms Holland’s last moments before she disappeared without a trace in 2012 (left and right)

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 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.’

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

In an emotional video released after Osment’s conviction, Ms Holland’s sister Sarah Holland said the last time she had seen her sister she had been ‘very bubbly’, adding that she had been ‘looking forward to her future’.

But her hopes of finding a job that would allow her to see her children – including a son she had with her killer – were prematurely brought to an end sometime in 2012. Police say they may never know what truly happened to her.

In the video, released by police after Osment’s conviction on Monday, Sarah Holland said: ‘There’s always this void, and it’s like a void that you can’t fill, that there’s something missing in your life and you can’t explain (it).

‘Carrying it around is like you’ve got some darkness behind you and you can’t remove it – and you just don’t know what to do to make that darkness bright again.’

She added: ‘The last time I seen Claire she was very happy, she was very bubbly.

Claire Holland disappeared after leaving the Seamus O'Donnell pub on St Nicholas St in Bristol

Claire Holland disappeared after leaving the Seamus O’Donnell pub on St Nicholas St in Bristol

‘But she’s always been bubbly, she was always bouncy. It’s the only way you could describe her, really, she was like a little rabbit bouncing around eveyrwhere.

‘She was working hard to try and get herself sorted out. I remember a conversation we had, she wanted to find a job that she could have that would still allow her to see her children.

‘She was asking me for advice on, ‘what do you think I could go into that would fit around seeing my children?’

‘She was looking forward to her future.’ 

After an eight-week trial, a jury returned a majority guilty verdict of 10-2 following six full days of deliberations. Osment will be sentenced on December 20.

Prosecutors told the jury he had murdered Claire and made multiple confessions that he did it because their child was taken into care.

She was 32 at the time and had said she had planned to meet Osment on the night of June 6, 2012, after a drinking session at the Seamus O’Donnell pub.

Despite a number of high-profile appeals and campaigns over the years, no trace of her has ever been found.

The jury heard Osment had ‘confessed’ on a number of occasions during the years to ‘unburden’ himself as he struggled to live with his ‘horrific’ actions.

In one confession to police call-handlers  he said he had strangled her as ‘no c***, no stupid b***h is going to keep me away from my boy’. 

Osment was released under investigation, but police later launched an undercover operation for an officer named as ‘Paddy O’Hara’ to befriend him and build up trust.

It lasted for 20 months and produced 1,200 hours of recorded footage.

Bodycam footage of Osment being arrested for the murder of Claire Holland

Bodycam footage of Osment being arrested for the murder of Claire Holland

On one occasion, the jury heard Osment confessed to ‘Paddy’ he had ‘done horrible f*****g s***’ and could not turn the clock back as ‘what is done is done’.

He also made reference to Claire having a ‘nice f*****g swimming lesson’ while he spat on the ground in the direction of the sea and then struggled not to vomit and mentioned her body being ‘halfway to Spain’.

Videos of the encounters while driving and sat at home were released by officers after being played to the jury.

In one clip, he imitates a ‘slashing’ across his body while making a swishing sound and described the ‘knife skill’ he learned as a trained chef.

And responding to questions about whether her body would float, he responds: ‘It’s all f*****g weighed, it’s all down, it’s not going to come floating back up.’

After declaring his trust in ‘Paddy’, Osment responds: ‘I don’t f*****g cast my mind back to what I had to f*****g, do you know what I mean. It’s not f*****g pleasant bro. It was f*****g horrible.’

On another occasion, he described it as ‘all done and dusted’ saying the clothes were burnt outside and that ‘everything’s gone’.  

He later told him: ‘It makes me feel sick. But I did it for [my child].’ 

Speaking after today’s verdict, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Darren Hannant, said: ‘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.’

DSI Hannant added: ‘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.

‘I’m in no doubt, Darren Osment is a danger to women, and our communities are a safer place with him behind bars.’

Osment talking to Paddy O'Hara while the pair spend time together on June 3, 2021

Osment talking to Paddy O’Hara while the pair spend time together on June 3, 2021

In an earlier 999 call to police Osment made in July 2019, he also told handlers he wanted to ‘hand himself in’ for murder at Exeter police station.

He tells them: ‘I’ve had enough of it all now. I just want the monkey off my back.’

He then tells the handler: ‘I’ve took the law in my own hands and you know she took my son away from me so I took that from her.’

When he is arrested, on police body worn footage, he told officers: ‘Had enough up to my eyeballs. Had enough ducking and diving, looking over my shoulder and all the rest of it.’

He later claimed in a police interview he couldn’t remember phoning them or speaking to them on arrival as he was ‘too drunk’.

Bristol Crown Court heard the victim met the defendant in 2008 when they became colleagues at the same cafe.

She eventually became pregnant with her third child, and his first, but the relationship turned ‘sour’ and ‘abusive’ as she was drinking too much, the prosecutor said.

Their relationship was described as ‘drink driven’ but Osment reportedly blamed Claire when their baby was taken into foster care.

The trial heard Claire had been a ‘troubled’ individual but her family said she was just getting her life back together and looking forward to a fresh start and ‘excited’ about a brighter future when she disappeared.

Staff and regulars at the pub where Claire was last seen said she left at one point that evening to buy ‘bra inserts’ from Primark as she was going to meet Osment – and had wanted to ‘dress to impress’ him.

Darren Osment being arrested in 2019 after calling 999 to confess to the murder. He could not be charged at the time due to a lack of supporting evidence

Darren Osment being arrested in 2019 after calling 999 to confess to the murder. He could not be charged at the time due to a lack of supporting evidence

Paul Brayford, the landlord, said that day she came in alone for the first time in a while and asked if she was ‘barred’.

He added: ‘She was larger than life, happy, a bit over the top, in good stead. She said she was going to see Darren that evening.

‘She was excited. She said she was going to Primark to go and buy some nice clothes.

‘She said she was going to make herself look nice for him.’

Prosecutor Andrew Langdon KC told the jury: ”As he has subsequently confessed a number of times, he met her and he killed her and, either alone or with the help of others, he no doubt would have had to pay given the risk they took, he got rid of her body.’

While on remand awaiting trial, the court heard Osment made another confession – this time to a fellow inmate.

Osment claimed all his confessions were made under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

Osment will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on December 20. 

The Honorable Mrs Justice Cutts told him: ‘You must understand the law requires me to pass a sentence of life imprisonment.

‘The question I must resolve is what the minimum term should be.’

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