Coventry & Warwickshire

Nicola Payne murder trial jury retires

Nicola Payne Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Nicola Payne disappeared on 14 December 1991

The jury in the case of two men accused of murdering a young mother in 1991 has retired to consider its verdict.

Prosecutors say 18-year-old Nicola Payne was abducted as she crossed wasteland on her way to her parents' house in Coventry.

Nigel Barwell and his brother-in-law, Thomas O'Reilly, deny murder.

The court was told the two acted together to get rid of her body, which has never been found, after she was killed on 14 December, 1991.

Mr Barwell, 51, of Copperas Street, Coventry, told Birmingham Crown Court he and Mr O'Reilly were in Rugby at the time of the alleged killing.

Image copyright Court artist Helen Tipper
Image caption Nigel Barwell, left, and Thomas O'Reilly deny murdering Nicola Payne

He described the case against him as "absolutely absurd" and denied deliberately delaying his attendance at ID parades held in 1991 and 1992.

Mr O'Reilly, 51, of Ribble Road, Coventry, broke down in the witness box after telling jurors that a well-built police officer had threatened to "do" him in early 1992.

He also said he was bundled into a van, blindfolded and questioned about Miss Payne's disappearance by a group of men later the same year.

The prosecution says Miss Payne's body was disposed of after being transported in a Ford Capri owned by Mr Barwell, who travelled to France shortly after she was reported missing.

Prosecutor Andrew Smith QC told the court DNA tests conducted on hairs found in a tent said to belong to Mr Barwell supported the conclusion that he and Mr O'Reilly murdered Miss Payne.

The tent was found near a river five days after her disappearance. Instructions for the tent were found inside Mr Barwell's Ford Capri in December 1991.

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