Northern Ireland

Pauline Carmichael murder: Former soldier jailed for nine years

Pauline Carmichael was found dead on the shore of Lough Neagh in February 2015 Image copyright Family
Image caption Pauline Carmichael was murdered by Alan Foster in February 2015

A 38-year-old former soldier from Antrim who murdered his father's partner has been jailed for nine years.

Pauline Carmichael, 61, was found dead on the shores of Lough Neagh in February 2015. The mother of seven had died from drowning.

Alan Norman Foster, of Hillside in Antrim, pleaded guilty to her murder.

Foster carried Ms Carmichael over his shoulder while she was still in her pyjamas, and threw her off a bridge with a 40ft drop.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Alan Foster has been jailed for a minimum of nine years

Speaking outside court, Ms Carmichael's daughter revealed that her mother had a fear of water and would have been "terrified" in the moments leading up to her death.

Noreen Brown said: "We feel justice has not been done today. It should be a life for a life.

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Media captionMs Carmichael's daughters, Noreen Brown and Jeanette Hall, say justice has not been done

"Her biggest fear was of water - anyone who knew her knew that. She would have been terrified on that bridge, knowing the river was below," she said.

Ms Brown and her sister, Jeanette Hall, said Ms Carmichael was a loving mother and grandmother, but was also a "lost soul" due to her dependency on alcohol.

'Good and loving person'

Ms Hall paid tribute to both the police and the Public Prosecution Service, but said she felt the sentence handed to Foster was not enough.

"The things we have had to listen to about what she went through has damaged us as a family. We have never hidden the fact she suffered from alcoholism, but even with this fact, she was a good and loving person."

Image caption Ms Carmichael's body was discovered on the shores of Lough Neagh

Belfast Crown Court heard Foster was angry because Ms Carmichael, from Ballyclare in County Antrim, called police to remove him from the flat, where he was "partying with two females".

She was heard by a neighbour screaming: "At least let me get my other shoe."

Foster told people Ms Carmichael had gone to Ballyclare with her dog.

'Ticking time bomb'

He was originally arrested on suspicion of kidnapping before being arrested for murder once her body was found.

A post-mortem examination revealed Ms Carmichael drowned and had also sustained a broken bone in her throat as well as multiple rib fractures.

The court had previously heard Foster was dealing with "the ticking time bomb of post traumatic stress disorder" after serving with the Royal Irish Rangers in Bosnia, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

It was heard he had witnessed "horrific scenes of slaughter" while on active duty.

But a prosecution barrister said: "He knew exactly what he was doing, he went through with it and then attempted to cover up what he had done."

Image caption A judge at Belfast Crown Court described the murder as a "wicked act"

Foster pleaded guilty to murder last month, after the jury for his trial had been sworn in, but before the trial began.

A judge said the circumstances of the murder were "particularly callous" and described it as a "wicked act".

He said Foster had murdered a woman who was "injured, lightly built and intoxicated".

He added: "She ended up in a moving river where she drowned and was washed away."

The judge said he had taken into account Foster's remorse and guilty plea.

Foster had already been sentenced to life, but Wednesday's hearing determined that he would spend at least nine years behind bars before being considered for parole, if ever.

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