Woman allegedly killed by ex-boyfriend suffered more than 70 injuries, court hears

Andrew Pearson. Photo: Facebook.

A woman who prosecutors say was murdered by her ex-boyfriend had suffered more than 70 injuries, experts found after her death.

Forensic pathologist Dr Louise Mulcahy told Teesside Crown Court she found dozens of bruises, grazes and abrasions to Natalie Harker’s body, including her head, neck, arms and legs.

The pathologist was giving evidence on the fifth day of Andrew Pearson’s trial for Miss Harker’s kidnap and murder alleged to have occurred on October 9 last year.

Mr Pearson claims Miss Harker died after falling in a stream while they were on an early-morning walk.

But prosecutors claim the accused held Miss Harker’s head in the water by pressing on her neck.

Dr Mulcahy told the hearing there was no “definitive” cause of Miss Harker’s death, however it was her belief she died due to a combination of compression of her neck and immersion of her head in water.

However, the jury was told she had not suffered a serious head injury and there were no medical reasons why she could not have stood or sat up if she had just fallen in the stream.

Dr Mulcahy told the court there were no injuries to the palms of Miss Harker’s hands that suggested she had tried to stop herself after falling in the stream.

However, she had suffered bruising to the back of her hand, which the expert said could be a defensive injury caused when she protected herself while being assaulted.

Dr Mulcahy said there was evidence of organic material likely to have come from the stream found in the victim’s throat.

She said that would normally have been coughed out had the victim been conscious after being immersed, suggesting Miss Harker never regained consciousness after being in the water

The defendant claims he pulled Miss Harker out of the stream and then gave her CPR, and that she was breathing after falling in the water.

The pathologist said she found no physical evidence that CPR had been carried out on Miss Harker, although she conceded under cross-examination that injuries to Miss Harker’s mouth could have been caused during CPR.

She also confirmed that the majority of the bruises suffered by Miss Harker could have been caused by “multiple falls” while walking on even ground and falling into a stream.

Asked if Miss Harker’s death could have been caused by cold water shock, the pathologist said it was a “theoretical possibility” although she said it was unlikely.

Mr Pearson denies both charges.

The case continues.