Northern Ireland

Life sentence for former soldier who murdered father's partner

Alan Norman Foster Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Alan Foster has been jailed for life

A 38-year-old former soldier has been jailed for life after he pleaded guilty to the murder of his father's 61-year-old partner.

Pensioner Pauline Carmichael was found dead on the shore of Lough Neagh in February 2015.

The mum-of-six, from Ballyclare, County Antrim, died as a result of drowning.

On Tuesday, a judge told Mr Foster that in light of his guilty plea, he would hand down the only sentence permitted by law - life imprisonment.

A tariff hearing next month will determine the minimum term Foster must serve before he can be considered for release.

Although a jury of six men and six women were sworn in on Monday to potentially hear the case, they were not "put in charge", allowing Foster's defence barrister to return to court on Wednesday with instructions from Foster to be re-arraigned, with the murder charge put to him again.

Image copyright Family photo filmed by BBC
Image caption Pauline Carmichael, 61, was found dead in February 2015

Sitting behind Foster in the public gallery, two of Ms Carmichael's daughters wept as they comforted one and other.

Earlier court proceedings heard that the grandmother's pyjama clad body was found in a river at Antrim's Lough Shore Park, just a mile from the flat she shared with Foster and his father David.

A post-mortem examination revealed that the Ballyclare woman had drowned and also sustained a broken bone in her throat as well as multiple rib fractures.

Police told Ballymena Magistrates Court that Foster was allegedly seen by passing motorists carrying the body of Ms Carmichael and "throwing an object" over a bridge.

A detective also revealed that a short time earlier, police had removed Foster and some friends from Ms Carmichael's flat, but they moved to a neighbouring flat.

The court heard that when police left the scene, Foster allegedly returned, carrying her over his shoulder, telling his friends that he was going to throw her over the bridge.

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