Inside undercover sting that snared murderer who made 16 confessions to killing

A police force set a sting operation for a former partner of a missing woman to gain his confession to murdering her after the case went cold for eight years.

In 2020, Avon and Somerset set about cracking the case by having an officer go undercover after nobody had been convicted of the disappearance of missing Claire Holland, who had four children.

They made the decision to authorise an undercover operation after her husband Darren Osment called 999 seven years after her disappearance claiming that he had murdered Ms Holland, but in an even more peculiar turn of events they decided not to arrest him as there was a lack of evidence making a conviction unlikely.

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An undercover police officer who would go by the fake name of 'Paddy O'Hara' became friends with Darren Osment in 2020, under the pretence that he had moved into a flat just 300 yards down the road.

He forged a friendship with Osment as he portrayed himself as a low-level criminal who sold fake clothes and offered Osment the work moving packages.

They would often socialise by walking the dog, drinking in the local pub and driving around in O'Hara's van.

Police chiefs also came up with fake criminal situations where O'Hara asked him to bury a gun and be involved in a 'carjacking' of a lorry at a motorway services.

Osment grew so fond of O'Hara that he even vowed to make him his best man should he ever get married.

In their 'friendship' that lasted a staggering 20 months, O'Hara witnessed many troubling signs from Osment, including threatening to hit someone with a snooker ball and keeping a hammer by his front door in case the police knocked on his door.

But, the most shocking part of their entire 'friendship' was Osment's willingness to admit the hatred he had towards his former wife.

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Watching the tapes of O'Hara and Osment speaking, they initially heard him say he had: "'done horrible f*****g s***" alluding to murdering Ms Holland.

He would later go into further detail about what he had done to her body saying: "'nice f*****g swimming lesson" and that her body was "halfway to Spain".

When asked whether her body would float he simply said: "It's all f*****g weighed, it's all down, it's not going to come floating back up."

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Osment later said: "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."

He would always refuse to use her name when talking about her and blamed her for calling the police when he pushed her down the stairs, which resulted in their child being taken into care.

Osment's trial lasted eight weeks in court before a jury found him guilty by a majority verdict of 10-2. He will be sentenced on Wednesday, December 20.

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