Man who kidnapped ex-girlfriend as she cycled to work found guilty of murder

Natalie Harker was kidnapped and killed by her former partner (Image: PA)

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A former supermarket worker who kidnapped his ex-girlfriend as she cycled to work and murdered her in his woodland hideout is facing a life sentence after he was convicted by a jury.

Andrew Lee Pearson, 45, from Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, ambushed Natalie Harker before dawn on October 9 last year, held her face underwater and then took her to his camouflaged tent.

At some point he had sex with her, jurors at Teesside Crown Court heard during his trial, although it was not possible to say if she was alive.

Later that day he messaged a friend in the US to say "Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I'm going to hand myself in".

The couple had split weeks before and Ms Harker, a conscientious medical centre cleaner and church-goer, had told family and friends she was scared of her ex, who was pestering her by text.

Natalie with Andrew Lee Pearson a year before her death

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Pearson had set up his tent, hidden in a copse, and lay in wait for her.

Some 12 hours after he killed her, he got his mother to dial 999 for him and he was to tell the operator, in between tears, how his 30-year-old ex-partner had slipped as they walked through woods and had fallen in a stream.

He then claimed he passed out in the tent after trying to revive her.

Pearson, who was jobless but previously worked at Tesco, told the court he had not called 999 earlier as he was in shock.

He denied harming her, and claimed they had consensual sex in the open air before she fell.

When police officers arrived at the tent, Ms Harker's bruised and naked body was stiff.

The jury took less than three hours to convict him of kidnap and murder.

Pearson will be jailed for life when he is sentenced at 2pm on Friday, when Judge Stephen Ashurst will set the minimum term he must serve before parole can be considered.

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