A MAN accused of murdering his former partner has told a court how he tried to save her life after she fell in a stream.

Andrew Pearson said he grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her from the water before dragging her to his tent which was pitched nearby.

The 45-year-old told jurors how he tried calling her name to bring her round before carrying out CPR on the unconscious Natalie Harker.

The defendant broke down and struggled to maintain his composure at times during cross examination from prosecuting barrister Alistair MacDonald QC.

"You were shouting at her 'wake up' repeatedly," he said. Pearson replied: "Yes, something like that."

Mr MacDonald said: "You realised you had a major emergency on your hands." Pearson replied: "I don't remember."

The prosecution barrister said: "She had stopped breathing, you had got her back round with CPR but she was absolutely unconscious. Then you realised you had a major emergency on your hands."

At this point Pearson began to struggle to compose himself, saying: "I can't cope with this. I had a breakdown on Friday and I can't think."

Judge Stephen Ashurst reminded the defendant that he could have a break at any point during the proceedings.

During re-examination by his defence barrister, John Elvidge QC, Pearson denied killing his former partner or causing her any physical hurt.

Earlier in the trial, jurors heard how Miss Harker's body was discovered naked and bruised in a tent belonging to Pearson several hours after she was reported missing.

Pearson told the jury that he considered the pair's relationship as 'loving' but accepted they were on a break.

He denied that he had been following his ex-partner in the period leading up to her disappearance in October last year.

Jurors at Teesside Crown Court have heard all the evidence in the trial with both barristers expected to close their cases today.