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.
Mr Justice Treacy told Alan Norman Foster that in light of his guilty plea he would “pronounce” the only sentence permitted by law, life imprisonment for the murder of mother-of-six Pauline Carmichael on February 25 last year.
The Antrim Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast’s Laganside courthouse, however, adjourned until next month the tariff hearing to determine the minimum term Foster must serve before he may 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 defence barrister John McCrudden QC to return to court on Tuesday with instructions from Foster to be rearraigned, with the murder charge put to him again.
Sitting just yards behind him in the public gallery, two of Ms Carmichael’s daughters sat and wept as they comforted each other.
Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy gave no details surrounding the death of the grandmother to 16, but earlier court proceedings heard that her pyjama-clad body was found in a river at Antrim’s Lough Shore Park, just a mile from her Hillside flat she also shared with Foster and his father David.
It was initially discovered by photographer Kevin Scott in the park at the mouth of the Six Mile Water River at the entrance to Lough Neagh.
A post-mortem examination revealed that the 5ft 4 ins, lightly-built granny, originally from Ballyclare, died as a result of drowning and that she had 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 hung around a neighbouring flat and when police left the scene, Foster allegedly returned.
“Evidence has been obtained that he left the flat a short time later carrying her over his shoulder and said to his friends that he was going to throw her over the bridge,” a detective had said.