Jury set to consider verdicts in Natalie Harker murder case

Andrew Pearson. Photo: Facebook.

The jury will sit down tomorrow to consider its verdicts in the trial of Andrew Pearson, who is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Natalie Harker.

The prosecution and defence barristers today made their closing speeches outlining their cases.

Judge Stephen Ashurst will tomorrow summarise the evidence before sending the jury out to decide whether Mr Pearson kidnapped and murdered the 30-year-old on October 9 last year in woods near Colburn.

Alistair MacDonald QC told the jury there was “overwhelming evidence” that Natalie Harker had been stalked and harrassed by the defendant in the weeks before her death.

The barrister said a key piece of evidence was Miss Harker’s work record and her dependability, which the prosecution say means she would not have missed work to go for a walk in the woods on the morning of her disappearance, as claimed by the defendant.

Mr MacDonald said: “There is no suggestion that she was not expected at the health centre that day, there is no suggestion that she was not expected at Risedale College.”

The court has heard that Miss Harker also had an appointment with a therapist the morning she went missing.

Mr MacDonald added: “There is not a shred of evidence that she had cancelled any appointment, any work or anything of the sort.

“There is not a chance in a million, not a chance in a million, that from all you know about Natalie Harker that she would have bunked off work.

“Even less is there the slightest chance that she would have done that to see this defendant at 4.30am on an unlit cycle track that she was frightened off on a dark October morning.

“If you’re sure about these points it demonstrates and proves, we say, you can be sure that the defendant is a liar.”

The prosecutor said it was a feature of the case that the defendant had changed his story “when cornered”.

Defence barrister John Elvidge QC said Mr Pearson had never been in trouble with the police before.

He said there was no suggestion the defendant had ever acted violent toward Miss Harker previously.

Mr Elvidge said: “The prosecution rely on the circumstances of the alleged killing.

“They invite you to infer that those circumstances show that he attacked her and not only that he did so with murderous intent, but precisely what were those circumstances.

“Despite their battery of experts they have no clear account to put in its place.

“If they don’t know what happened how can you be sure? How you can be sure that he acted with murderous intent?

“The prosecution brings these charges and they must make you sure before you can convict on any count.”

Suggesting to the jury that Mr Pearson was not responsible for Miss Harker’s death and should not be convicted, he said: “It’s awful that Natalie Harker is dead but two wongs do not make a right.”

Mr Pearson, 45, of Brompton-on-Swale, denies both charges.

The trial continues.