A pub chef murdered his ex-partner after blaming her for their child being taken into care, a court heard.

Darren Osment, 41, has gone on trial at Bristol Crown Court charged with the killing of Claire Holland, who has been 'missing' for more than a decade

Holland has not been seen since leaving a pub in Bristol on the weekend of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in June 2012. 

She was 32 at the time and despite a number of high-profile appeals and campaigns, no trace of her body or remains has ever been found.

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

Andrew Langdon KC, prosecuting, said: “Once you have heard all the evidence you will be sure that she died at the hands of this defendant, Darren Osment.

Gazette Series: Darren Osment is accused of killing his ex-partner Claire Holland - court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook Darren Osment is accused of killing his ex-partner Claire Holland - court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook (Image: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire)

“He knows the manner of her death and he knows how her body was disposed of.

“In the 11 years since he killed her, he has been carrying the burden of knowing what he did to her.

“At times he has sought to relieve himself of the burden.”

The court heard the defendant and Ms Holland met in 2008 when they worked together in a cafe and began a relationship, with a child being born in 2010.

Mr Langdon said Ms Holland was also a heavy drinker and had drunk throughout the pregnancy, and this was a source of tension between the couple.

When their child was a few weeks old, police were called to the home they shared in Bradley Stoke following allegations of alcohol-fuelled domestic violence.

Shortly afterwards, the child was placed in foster care.

Gazette Series: Bristol Crown CourtBristol Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

One social worker told police after the child was taken into care: “Darren was blaming Claire for the removal of the child due to the fact that she had called the police a few days before our visit and the police had attended their home address.”

Another social worker described the relationship as “drink-driven” and Osment did not want the child to be placed with any of Ms Holland’s family.

But a few weeks before her disappearance, the child went to live with Ms Holland’s aunt outside the Bristol area.

There was little contact between Ms Holland and the defendant until the week of her disappearance, the court heard.

They had exchanged phone calls and Ms Holland told people in the pub on the night she vanished she was meeting Osment after he finished work as a chef at a pub in Clifton.

“Where did she go after she left the pub? She was drunk, we do not know how much money she had left, but she had no keys and no phone,” Mr Langdon said.

“All we really know is that she had a plan to meet Darren Osment. He was very much on her mind.

“She had things to tell him and she had persuaded herself, perhaps because she was drunk, that he might be pleased to see her.”

Gazette Series: Holland has not been seen since leaving a pub in Bristol in June 2012Holland has not been seen since leaving a pub in Bristol in June 2012 (Image: Avon and Somerset Police)

The prosecution said Osment, a heavy drinker, has in the years since told several people he had killed her or paid someone else to.

He allegedly told one friend: “I … I did kill … I did kill her, you know, I did kill my ex. 

“I killed her. I … I killed my ex. I threw it off … into the river off Avonmouth Docks in Bristol. I strangled her.”

Asked why, Osment replied: “No c***, no stupid bitch is going to keep me away from my child.”

A former partner of the defendant told police he had suggested to her he had paid someone else rather than “get his own hands dirty”.

And he is alleged to have told another friend: “I paid someone £500 to have the mother of my child executed.”

Mr Langdon suggested to jurors that Osment, if he was innocent, must have wondered what had happened to the mother of his child.

“Or as a guilty man, a man who had indeed met with Claire Holland and then following some drunken argument killed her that night, and had disposed of her body, well then he would have proceeded into the future nervously, wouldn’t he?” Mr Langdon said.

“Looking over his shoulder, worried that he would be found out. Every time he saw a police car his heart would miss a beat.

“If, despite his dislike of Claire Holland and all he blamed her for, if he had a conscience, and a memory of what he had done, you would expect that he may be troubled by the memory of it.

“If he killed her and found a way to dispose of her body, then despite the fact that he blamed her for so many things concerning their child, he would nonetheless perhaps and to an extent be haunted by the memory of what he had done.

“He would carry the guilt around with him wherever he went.”

The trial continues.