Murder accused tells court he did not kidnap and kill ex-girlfriend

Andrew Pearson. Photo: Facebook.

A man today told a jury he did not murder his ex-girlfriend after she refused to get back together with him.

Andrew Pearson took the stand at Teesside Crown Court at the start of the defence case in his trial for the kidnap and killing of 30-year-old Natalie Harker.

Mr Pearson was asked by defence barrister John Elvidge QC a number of questions including if he had assaulted Miss Harker, intended to harm her or cause her serious harm, take her into the woods without her consent and kill her.

To each of the questions, the defendant said: “No.”

Mr Pearson is due to continue giving evidence tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, the jury heard statements from witnesses who spoke with Miss Harker shortly before her death on October 9 last year and said she thought she was being followed.

Among those were two friends who would often meet the 30-year-old as she cycled to Catterick Village Health Centre where she worked as a cleaner.

They pair would bump into MIss Harker near Catterick Racecourse, where they walked their dogs, and would often chat in the early morning before Natalie started work at 5am.

The dog walkers said Miss Harker initially told them how she had a boyfriend, however she later said they had split up and he was now ‘doing her head in’ and he was was now ‘giving her grief’.

The witnesses said Natalie asked them to check if she was being followed as she rode to work.

The court also heard from a couple who attended an Alpha course at St Cuthbert’s Church in Colburn in the days before Natalie was found dead.

Janet and Alec Cropper said they got talking to Natalie at the event, who told them she thought she was being followed.

The couple suggested she speak to the police and offer to accompany her, but Natalie didn’t want to.

Prosecutors claim Mr Pearson laid in wait for Miss Harker on a footpath which he knew she would use on the way to work at the health centre, before killing her.

The defendant claims Miss Harker fell in a stream and died in woodland near the Walkerville Industrial Estate in Colburn when they were on an early morning walk.

He said he performed CPR and dragged his ex-girlfriend back to his tent, then ‘blacked out’ and couldn’t remember what happened during the preceding hours before the alarm was raised.

The court this morning heard from expert witness Dr Richard Hardie, a neurologist.

The expert said he had reviewed the case documents and could see no organic reason, such as a head injury, why Mr Pearson might have suffered amnesia.

He was asked about whether there was evidence the defendant had suffered psychogenic amnesia, which is a rare form of amnesia which can occur after someone has suffered a trauma or shock.

After discussing the evidence, which included the defendant’s phone being manually switched off, unlocked and then back on, and calls and messages being exchanged with a friend in American and his mother, Dr Hardie said he could not rule that Mr Pearson had suffered psychogenic amnesia, but he added “it seems to me from this account that it was much shorter than the full eight hours”, which is unaccounted for in the defendant’s account.

Mr Pearson, 45, of Brompton-on-Swale, denies kidnap and murder.

The trial continues.