Miner charged with murder

An employee at a New South Wales’ mine was yesterday charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

The accused George Robert Ballantyne once declared that his love for Clare Weston would last ‘‘forever and always’’.

Ballantyne, 30, a store person at the mine, turned himself into Maitland police station at about 5.30pm on Sunday and was subsequently charged.

He and Weston had been together for just four months when her body was found partly naked, dumped on the banks of the Hunter River at Aberglasslyn, the Newcastle Herald reported.

The man was formally refused bail and was not brought into Maitland Local Court on Monday to face a murder charge.

Police will allege that an altercation occurred between Ballantyne and Weston some time after 2am on Sunday, before Weston’s body was dragged down an embankment, left lying in a pool of water near the Melville Ford Bridge.

Her body was allegedly found face down with her knees and back out of the water at about 8am Sunday morning.

Police also allege women’s underpants were found nearby and a pair of denim jeans were in a tree close by.

Ballantyne and Weston allegedly drove to the site to talk.

Police will allege Ballantyne escorted them on a walk-through of the crime scene.

Clothing and a motor vehicle have also been seized by police from the couple’s residence in Greta.

The Newcastle Herald reported that on Ballantyne’s Facebook page he appeared to post messages about their budding relationship in November and December, describing Weston as ‘‘my soulmate’’ and ‘‘my world, my everything’’.

It has also been reported that on a picture of the couple kissing, Ballantyne wrote: ‘‘Cant b broken forever and always’’.

Tributes poured in on Monday for Weston, a 23-year-old mother of two, with a specially created Facebook page in her honour gathering almost 1000 likes.

‘‘Taken too early from this world leaving behind … the rest of the family who love her very much,’’ the victim’s uncle Frank Weston wrote.

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