Jilted boyfriend lay in wait to pounce on ex and drown her in a stream before texting pal 'I killed Natalie'
A JILTED boyfriend who lay in wait for his ex before drowning her in a woodland stream has today been jailed for life.
Andrew Pearson, 45, stalked Natalie Harker, 28, hiding in a camouflage tent, before murdering her after she ended their 18-month relationship.
He set up camp in woodland and lay in wait for Natalie before pouncing as she walked to her early-morning cleaning job.
Pearson dragged devout churchgoer Natalie into the woods and drowned her on October 9 last year.
A postmortem found he had had sex with her, possibly after her death.
Pearson was convicted of murder and kidnap and jailed at Teesside Crown Court.
Judge Stephen ordered him to serve a minimum term of 25 years.
He said: "I am persuaded that the sexual intercourse took place when Natalie was not conscious and may very well have been dead or dying at the time."
Natalie's heartbroken family have said they remember her by looking at a star they named after her.
Judge Ashurst told Pearson he “showed a remarkable degree of callousness towards a woman you said was the love of your life."
The couple met when they both worked at Tesco in Catterick, North Yorkshire.
Their relationship hit the rocks after 18 months because Pearson was out of work and couldn’t pay his way.
Natalie, of Colburn, North Yorks, broke up with him after going on holiday in August last year, but he refused to accept it was over and became obsessed with the idea that she was seeing someone else.
Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald, QC, told the trial: "This defendant was very angry with Natalie and cooked up in his mind this idea that she had cheated on him and wronged him.”
Pearson, of Catterick Garrison, had earlier told an acquaintance that he hoped Natalie “lived to regret her decisions” while she told friends she was frightened of texts he sent her.
This defendant was very angry with Natalie and cooked up in his mind this idea that she had cheated on him and wronged him
He followed her around on his bike and erected a campsite in woods near her route to her 5am cleaning job at a medical centre.
Pearson did a dry run of his planned attack, watching and timing Natalie as she cycled by the woods on a secluded path.
He even took "chilling" photos of the spots where he planned to grab her.
On the morning of October 9 last year he lay in wait for her and when she passed by he snatched her off her bike.
'I HAVE KILLED NATALIE'
He hid it from view in a roadside field and dragged her to a stream next to his camp where he drowned her.
Pearson stayed with Natalie's body for 12 hours before confessing by text to a friend in America saying: "Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I am going to hand myself in."
He told his mother and he pretended Natalie had fallen into the water by accident.
She called the police and he was arrested.
'WAS SHE IN PAIN?'
He told cops that Natalie had willingly gone for a walk in the woods with him and had consensual sex before slipping and falling in the water.
It took jurors just under 90 minutes to decide that was a lie.
Her dad, John Harker, said was tormented by thoughts of her final moments, saying in a victim statement: "Was she calling out for me, was she in pain?
"These are questions I always ask myself."
Last Christmas was "awful" for the family, he said, but, Mr Harker said: "We named a star after her, each night we would look up and look for her."
Natalie's brother Alistair added: "I feel totally lost without Natalie, completely alone and abandoned."
Caging Pearson, Judge Ashurst also passed a five-year term for kidnap, to run concurrently with the 25-year sentence.
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