A PUB chef who was convicted of murdering his former partner has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

Darren Osment, 41, killed mother-of-four Claire Holland, 32, who was last seen leaving a pub in Bristol in June 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 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, of Chessel Drive, Patchway, 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.

Gazette Series: Mother-of-four Claire Holland, 32, was last seen alive in June 2012Mother-of-four Claire Holland, 32, was last seen alive in June 2012 (Image: Avon and Somerset Police)

"You robbed her of the future she deserved"

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

“Claire Holland was aged 32 at the time of her death in June 2012,” she told Osment.

“She was a warm and vivacious person who was deeply loved. She had experienced difficulties in her early life but in 2012 was, in the words of her mother, starting a new chapter.

“She had a new flat, had reengaged with her family and was engaging in a programme to stop drinking.

“She was happy and optimistic about the future. A fresh start was ahead of her. You robbed her of that fresh start. You robbed her of the future she deserved.”

The judge added: “You left her family with the agony of not knowing where she was or what happened. As you started to move on with your life, you left her family in limbo.”

“You were haunted by it and seeking to relieve the burden of what you did, you made confessions over the years to six people.”

The judge said she was sure that Osment had dismembered and disposed of Ms Holland’s body in water.

Gazette Series: Darren Osment has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years for murdering his ex-partner Claire HollandDarren Osment has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years for murdering his ex-partner Claire Holland (Image: Avon and Somerset Police)

She told him: “For Claire’s family’s sake, and for the sake of your child, I urge you for once to stand up to what you have done in the very near future and to disclose what you did and where her body might be found so that she may be laid to rest.”

As Osment was taken down to the cells, he unfolded a piece of paper with the word “innocent” written on it in black pen and held it to the glass of the dock.

The judge commended officers involved in the investigation, including the undercover officer known only by his pseudonym, Paddy O’Hara.

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.”

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”.

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.

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

Mr Langdon told jurors how Osment 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.

Following the jury’s verdict, the actions of the undercover officer were praised.

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.”

Ms Holland’s half-sister Michaela Holland 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.”