Mother of murdered Nicola Payne weeps as she tells court how her ‘perfect’ daughter was abducted and killed as she took a shortcut through wasteland to see her parents 24 years ago 

The mother-of-one had left her seven-month-old son Owen with her boyfriend Jason Cooke at his home while she went to visit her father John and mother, who lived just a five-minute walk away.
  • Marilyn Payne choked back tears as she recalled daughter's disappearance
  • She said Nicola was walking to her parents' house when she went missing
  • 18-year-old mother-of-one disappeared in wasteland in Coventry in 1991
  • Nigel Barwell and his brother-in-law Thomas O'Reilly both deny her murder
 

The mother of murdered teenager Nicola Payne wept in court today as she told how her 'perfect' daughter was abducted and killed after taking a shortcut through wasteland 24 years ago.

Marilyn Payne choked back the tears as she recalled how her daughter disappeared in broad daylight in Wood End, Coventry, while walking to her parents' home on December 14, 1991.

The mother-of-one had left her seven-month-old son Owen with her boyfriend Jason Cooke at his home while she went to visit her father John and mother, who lived just a five-minute walk away.

Marilyn Payne (pictured outside Birmingham Court today with her husband John) choked back the tears as she recalled how her daughter Nicola disappeared in broad daylight in Wood End, Coventry in December 1991

Nicola Payne, 18, was killed after being abducted while walking to her parents' home, a court has heardNicola Payne, 18, was killed after being abducted while walking across wasteland known as the Black Pad in Wood End, Coventry, as she made her way to her parents' home, Birmingham Crown Court heard

Nicola Payne (pictured), 18, was killed after being abducted while walking across wasteland known as the Black Pad in Wood End, Coventry, as she made her way to her parents' home, Birmingham Crown Court heard

However, she disappeared while walking in fog across wasteland known as the Black Pad and her body has never been found.

Nigel Barwell, 50, and his brother-in-law Thomas O'Reilly, 51, are accused of abducting the teenage mother, wrapping her in a tent and disposing of her body.

Today, Mrs Payne told Birmingham Crown Court how she last saw her daughter the day before she disappeared and described her as the 'perfect' mother to Owen.

She told the jury: 'I had concerns before Owen was born, because Nicola was young to be a mum. But she was perfect. They got on really well.

'He was just her world, he really was. She was devoted to him.

'She got on with all her brothers, myself, her dad, all the family - and she was just so, so happy about moving in and Owen's first Christmas in the house they'd just bought.'

Describing the day before her daughter vanished, Mrs Payne said: 'On the Friday [December 13, 1991] I was due to start work at 2.30pm and Nicola took me to work, driving her dad's car which she borrowed that week.

'I was the officer in charge at the nursing home on a 24-hour shift, so she was going to pick me up the following day.

'She was wearing a leather bomber jacket with a sheep skin lining, a flowery top, olive green trousers and a new pair of brown Pixie boots.

'I was due to finish at 3pm and Nicola was going to collect me and then go and do some food shopping.

'I did receive a call the next day, I remember it clearly.

Nicola Payne, who had just bought a house with her partner Jason, is pictured with her son Owen, who was aged just seven months when she disappeared. She disappeared in 1991 and her body has never been found

Nicola Payne, who had just bought a house with her partner Jason, is pictured with her son Owen, who was aged just seven months when she disappeared. She disappeared in 1991 and her body has never been found

An artist's impression of Thomas O'Reilly (left) and Nigel Barwell (right), who are both on trial accused of murdering the young teenage mother in December 1991. They both deny the charge and the case continues

An artist's impression of Thomas O'Reilly (left) and Nigel Barwell (right), who are both on trial accused of murdering the young teenage mother in December 1991. They both deny the charge and the case continues

'It was 1.05pm, from John, my husband, asking me if Nicola was with me. I never saw her since she dropped me at work Friday.

'She was supposed to drop our keys back, but they never arrived.'

Mrs Payne said the family received 'vicious' anonymous phone calls after she disappeared.

The court also heard that Barwell had tried to 'come onto' Nicola after seeing her in pub months earlier.

Nicola's brother Scott, who was 24 at the time, said he had confronted Barwell and Jason's brother Michael when they pestered her at the Red Lion pub in Coventry.

The court heard how Barwell had tried to 'come onto' Nicola (above) after seeing her in pub months earlier

The court heard how Barwell had tried to 'come onto' Nicola (above) after seeing her in pub months earlier

He said: 'I knew Nigel Barwell since I was about 13 or 14, he lived on a nearby estate.

'A couple of months before Nicola disappeared there was an incident at the Red Lion pub, in the evening.

'I was there with my friends, Nicola was there with her friends.

'She came over to speak to me, to say she was having problems with Jason Cooke's older brother, Michael, and his friend, Nigel Barwell.

'She was angry and upset. I told her not to worry about them, it's all ok, just ignore it.

'I think she wanted to take my advice, but she was more upset, saying they wouldn't leave her alone. I went over to confront them, and Nicola was with me.

'She said Michael was trying to flirt with her in an overly friendly way, rather than just usual conversation.

'She said Barwell had also in the past made advances on her.

'I spoke to them for a couple of minutes and then went back to my friends and although I asked Nicola to stay with me, she went back to her friends.

'She said 'It's not the first time. They are always trying to come onto me.'

Yesterday it emerged that strands of hair linked to Nicola were found in a tent belonging to one of her alleged murderers almost a quarter of a century later.

During the opening day of the trial, the court heard how hairs found on the inside of an abandoned tent once owned by Barwell were '900 million times more likely to belong to Nicola Payne than anyone else'.

Prosecutor Andrew Smith QC told the court that the new forensic evidence, carried out in 2014, linked the defendants to the scene of the crime and suggested a sexual motive behind the attack. 

Mr Smith told the jury that a Freeman Gemini dome tent had initially been discovered in undergrowth in Barwell's garden five days after Nicola disappeared.

Marilyn and John Payne, Nicola's parents, are pictured leaving Birmingham Crown Court this afternoon

Marilyn and John Payne, Nicola's parents, are pictured leaving Birmingham Crown Court this afternoon

Marilyn Payne is helped down the stairs outside the court after telling jurors how her daughter disappeared while she walked to her parents' house across wasteland in Wood End, Coventry, in December 1991

Marilyn Payne is helped down the stairs outside the court after telling jurors how her daughter disappeared while she walked to her parents' house across wasteland in Wood End, Coventry, in December 1991

Some 23 years later, it was discovered in a police store in Coventry and a mitochondria DNA test found three hairs that could belong to Nicola.

Those hairs were compared to five hairs recovered from Nicola's hair band in 1992, which allowed detectives to create a new DNA profile for the missing mother.

Jurors were told that Barwell and O'Reilly, both from Coventry, are now aged 51 but were both 27 in December 1991.

They were first arrested on December 17, 1991 but at an identification parade the following year, there were no positive identifications.

They were then arrested again in 2013, before being charged with murder the following year.

Both men deny murder. The trial, which is expected to last between six and eight weeks, continues. 

Police erect a tent in an area of woodland in Coventry where they searched for Nicola's body (file picture)

Police erect a tent in an area of woodland in Coventry where they searched for Nicola's body (file picture)

 
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By World Staff Writer 10/13/2015 17:20:00