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The role of CCTV in the Claire Holland murder investigation

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When Claire Holland went missing in 2012, the resulting investigation resulted in hundreds of hours of CCTV being seized from across Bristol in a bid to trace her last movements.

Following a 999 call to police in 2019, Claire’s disappearance was treated as murder and a new investigation was launched, resulting in her former partner Darren Osment, 41, being convicted following an 11-week trial (more details in linked article).

A comprehensive review of CCTV evidence gathered in 2012 was carried out as part of this new investigation, totalling more than 1,700 hours of footage. This would take one person, watching the footage eight hours a day, around 213 days to complete (some of the CCTV clips in video below).

Deb Sek, a Major Crime Investigation Officer (pictured below), led this review to build a comprehensive visual timeline of Claire’s movements on Wednesday 6 June, 2012.

She said: “This was one of the biggest CCTV investigations we’ve had. We reviewed everything seized, including CCTV stills and footage. Everything was on disc and it was all catalogued.

“We were thinking about what Claire was wearing, what she was carrying, and where she visited, according to the witness statements we’d gathered.

Image showing Deb Sek, a Major Crime Investigation Officer, sat at desk. A computer shows an image of a briefing document for Operation Mountain, the investigation into the murder of Claire Holland.

“It took three weeks to catalogue everything. Then we took images as reference points including Claire’s distinctive clothing and Primark bag, to help us build up the timeline.  

“The last time we have Claire on camera was at 9.32pm that evening in Baldwin Street, when she was heading back to the Seamus O’Donnell’s pub in St Nicholas Street.

“In 2012, the cameras were not as advanced as they are now, and you can’t go back and get any more footage – you have to work with what you have. But the footage does help us corroborate witness statements and build up a picture of what Claire was doing on the day she went missing, so from this aspect it’s really important.

“It’s definitely a steady, accurate job, and it can be quite intense as we’re looking at the same pieces of footage over and over again.

“The CCTV timelines need to be ready for court and everything has to be disclosed.

“We’ve done this work for Claire and her family and to bring Darren Osment to justice for her murder. Being able to give the family the information they need which will allow them to move onto the next process of grief is vital.”

Darren Osment is due to be sentenced on Wednesday 20 December.