Murder accused Andrew Pearson messaged a friend to tell him he had killed his ex-girlfriend, a court heard today.
The defendant wrote “Goodby. I have killed Natalie. I’m going to hand myself in” to a friend in the US, before deleting the message.
Mr Pearson, 45, appeared at Teesside Crown Court today on the second day of his trial for the kidnap and murder of 30-year-old Natalie Harker.
Alistair MacDonald QC, prosecuting, told the court that the defendant’s iPhone was recovered after Natalie’s body was found in a tent on October 9 last year.
Expert analysis of the phone suggested the defendant had been at his home address in Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, at 3.28am the morning of Natalie’s death and had not been in the tent, despite telling police he had been camping out.
The jury was told experts were able to show he then left the house and walked to the footpath near the Walkerville Industrial Estate, in Colburn.
The prosecution say he left at a time which gave him a “head start” so he could “lay in wait for Natalie”, who he knew would be cycling past along the secluded path on her way to work at Catterick Village Health Centre from her home in Colburn Lane.
The analysis showed the handset was in the vicinity of the path and there was a period of inactivity when prosecutors claim the defendant was waiting for his former girlfriend.
The step and location data then suggests the defendant left the path, prosecutors say with Natalie, and went through a field and into Horse park Wood, over the stream and towards the tent.
Prosecutors say the phone was then manually switched off at 7.16am.
The prosecution say the evidence suggests the defendant was active at a time when he had told police he had “passed out” after Natalie had fallen in the stream.
“It’s prosecution case that the defendant was not unconscious – he was moving about and active,” Mr MacDonald said.
“There was no reason why he could not have sought help for Natalie.”
Just before the handset was switched off, the phone was in an area of the field near the woodland where Natalie’s bike was later found by police in a small hollow hidden from view of the footpath.
The phone was then switched back on 3.06pm later that day.
Shortly afterwards, the accused sent the message to the friend in the US, it is alleged.
Commenting on the message, Mr MacDonald said: “It’s the prosecution case that this was a confession on the defendant’s part to the crime of murder.”
The prosecutor added that the text was “completely inconsistent” to Natalie having accidentally fallen into the stream and her having dragged him in, and him doing all he could to save her, as he initially told police.
After sending the message, the defendant and his friend then had a conversation over FaceTime which lasted more than 40 minutes, the court heard.
“If he was capable of having a FaceTime call that lasted over 40 minutes with his friend in the United States he was capable, surely, surely, of ringing 999 and trying to get some help,” Mr Macdonald added.
After the FaceTime conversation with his friend, he then contacted his mother, Susan Pearson, who called 999.
“When he did finally speak to someone in the UK it was to his mother who rang 999 — he didn’t even do that himself,” Mr MacDonald added.
The court was told that Mr Pearson made no comment when later interviewed by police about the alleged murder.
The court heard said there were men clearing woodland using chainsaw less than 100 metres from the tent where Natalie’s body was found on the day of her death, yet the defendant did not seek their help.
Mr MacDonald told the court the accused and Natalie met while they both worked at Tesco in Catterick Garrison.
Natalie was described as a popular, conscientious woman, who had suffered with depression and anxiety previously, but was happy at the time of her death, particularly after joining a local church.
She worked as a cleaner at Catterick Village Health Centre and at Risedale College.
Prosecutors say Natalie and the defendant had been in a relationship, but that Natalie had ended it the previous year.
It is claimed the accused was unhappy about this and had made up stories on how she had cheated on him, however he had messaged Natalie saying he wanted to get back together.
Facebook posts (see bel0w) made in the weeks before Natalie’s death by the defendant were shown to the jury.
However, the court heard how Natalie had confided in a colleague at work that she was having trouble with a man, who she did not identify, on her cycle home and if the colleague saw her with a man to stop and check she was okay.
The court was also told that as well as being conscientious, once carrying out a shift at work despite breaking her ankle in a cycling accident earlier that day, Natalie disliked being dirty and was scared of spiders and bugs.
Mr MacDonald said this begged the question what she was doing stopping on her way to work to go for a walk with the defendant — if his account was true — before dawn.
The barrister said evidence would be put before the court that showed Mr Pearson was “deeply resentful” that Natalie had wanted to end the relationship and that he had tried to get back together.
However, the jury was told that Natalie had not wanted to and had become increasingly worried about calls and messages from both the defendant and his mother, who also wanted the couple to get back together, so much so that she had blocked both their numbers.
The court was told Natalie said to one friend she was getting “very scary” messages from her ex-boyfriend, while she also took to hiding her bike while at work, telling a colleague it was so the accused didn’t know she was there.
Mr Pearson, of Honey Pot Road, Brompton-on-Swale, denies the charges.
The trial continues.