Murder and kidnap accused made ‘confession’ to US friend, court hears
A man who denies kidnapping and murdering his ex-girlfriend in a woodland tent texted a “confession” to a friend saying he had killed her and was going to hand himself in, a court heard.
But Andrew Lee Pearson, a 45-year-old former Tesco worker, wept during a 999 call and told the operator Natalie Harker had slipped and fallen in a stream, and that he passed out after trying to revive her, Teesside Crown Court has heard.
The prosecution alleged he set up a camouflaged tent and lay in wait in the dark for the 30-year-old cleaner as she cycled to work from her home in Colburn, North Yorkshire, last October.
Pearson said in the 999 call that they were walking together through the wood when she fell, that he dragged her out a stream, took her back to the tent, stripped her and carried out CPR on her, then he passed out for hours.
When he woke Ms Harker was purple, he claimed, and foaming at the mouth.
Andrew MacDonald QC, prosecuting, said when police analysed his mobile phone they found a deleted message to a friend in the US, around 90 minutes before to the 999 call, which said: “Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I’m going to hand myself in.”
Pearson, who was jobless, spent another 42 minutes in Face Time calls with the friend, the court heard.
Mr MacDonald said: “At the time it was sent the defendant must have been conscious and able to think straight; that is quite contrary to the assertion he made in the 999 call that he had passed out.”
Post-mortem tests showed that Pearson had sex with Ms Harker, but it was not possible to say whether this was before or after she died.
Mr MacDonald said the pair had broken up some weeks before her death and that it was her decision.
She was very conscientious about her job at a health centre, disliked dirt and insects, was fearful of stiles and barbed wire, and so would not choose to go walking through the woods in the dark when she was supposed to be on her way to work, the court was told.
Mr MacDonald told the court the tent was in a rough area of woodland, saying: “It was hardly a romantic setting, particularly on an October morning well before dawn.”
Mr MacDonald said she told a friend that “she was being pestered by her former boyfriend. If that friend saw her with a man in the street she should intervene”.
The prosecution said men were felling trees with chainsaws around 100m from where the tent was hidden, but Pearson did not ask them to help and raised the alarm once they had finished work that afternoon.
Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, denies murder and kidnap.
The trial continues.