Forensic evidence does not support murder accused’s claim of helping victim, court hears

Andrew Pearson. Photo: Facebook.

Forensic evidence does not support a murder suspect’s claim he dragged his ex-girlfriend to safety, a court heard today.

On the fourth day of Andrew Pearson’s trial for the kidnap and murder of Colburn woman Natalie Harker at Teesside Crown Court, the jury heard from a forensic expert who examined the scene of the alleged crime on October 9 last year.

The 45-year-old told police on the day of the incident that the 30-year-old had fallen in a stream while they were on an early-morning walk, and that he had pulled her to safety.

However, forensic expert Dr Gemma Escott told the court that the lack of soil on the victim’s boots was “inconsistent” with the defendant’s claim that he dragged her to his tent.

The court heard how Miss Harker’s clothes were recovered soaking wet and folded from the tent where her body was found.

Mr Pearson told police he had stripped her before performing CPR.

The court was told samples collected from the scene suggested that sexual intercourse had occurred, although the expert said it was not clear whether this took place before or after Miss Harker died.

The jury was also told that gaffer tape was found at the scene.

Analysis of the tape found in the tent revealed components of Miss Harker’s DNA and smaller traces belonging to the suspect.

The forensic scientist concluded that both the victim and the defendant had come into contact with the tape.

However, the court heard that the evidence was insufficient to determine whether it was used over Miss Harker’s mouth.

The court was also told that forensic analysis of two knives found in the tent showed blood stains belonging to the victim.

Miss Harker and the accused had had a relationship which lasted 18 months and ended in August 2018.

Mr Pearson, of Honey Pot Road, Brompton-on-Swale, denies both charges.

The trial continues.