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Catterick man jailed for ambush murder of ex-girlfriend

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire Police
image captionAndrew Pearson, 45, will serve at least 25 years in prison

A man who kidnapped and murdered his ex-girlfriend in a woodland hideout has been jailed for at least 25 years.

Andrew Pearson, 45, ambushed Natalie Harker as she cycled to work in Catterick, North Yorkshire on 9 October 2019.

Teesside Crown Court heard Ms Harker, 30, was drowned before her body was hidden in Pearson's tent.

Police were called by Pearson's mother after her son had phoned her claiming she had died in an accident.

Pearson told his mother the pair had been walking together when Ms Harker had accidently slipped and fallen into a river, North Yorkshire Police said.

The couple had split up weeks before and Ms Harker, who worked as a cleaner, had told family and friends she was scared of her ex-partner who had been pestering her by text.

Two days before she was killed she told people at her church she was worried she was being followed.

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire Police
image captionNatalie Harker, 30, told friends she feared she was being followed

Detectives discovered Pearson had conducted a dry run and took photos of the various scenes days before he ambushed Ms Harker at about 04:30 BST on a secluded path near Colburn.

Passing sentence Judge Stephen Ashurst said only Pearson would know precisely what happened when he killed her by holding her underwater while compressing her neck.

"What happened thereafter was extraordinary," he said.

"You took her lifeless body into the tent, stripped her of her clothes which you then folded and took into another part of the tent.

"Whether she was still breathing or not, you thought only of yourself, not just in the shock of the moment, but for hour after hour."

The court heard Pearson did not summon help, but messaged a friend in the US, saying: "Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I'm going to hand myself in."

He then spent 42 minutes on a FaceTime call with that friend while in the tent with her body before calling his mother.

Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, was given a minimum jail term of 25 years.

Related Topics

  • Catterick
  • Catterick Garrison

More on this story

  • Natalie Harker: Man 'lay in wait for ex-girlfriend before murder'