THE jury will retire to consider its verdict on whether Andrew Pearson kidnapped and murdered his former partner Natalie Harker on Friday morning.

The 45-year-old is accused of holding Miss Harker’s head under water until she died after intercepting her on her way to work last October.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant denies doing anything to hurt Miss Harker and said it was an accident after she slipped down an embankment into a stream.

Yesterday, Judge Stephen Ashurst spent the day addressing the jurors as he summed up the evidence heard during the trial.

He outlined the case that the jury had heard over the previous 12 days as the murder trial draws to a close.

Recounting the evidence from friends and family of Miss Harker who highlighted she had raised concerns about Pearson's behaviour following their breakup and believed that he had been following her to and from work.

Details about the content of the final text messages and Facebook posts were read out by the judge who reminded the jury that the couple were supposedly 'on a break' at the time.

He said: “The last message (on September 8) was just leave me alone please. The significance of that is ultimately for you to decide.”

Dealing with Pearson's evidence, the judge said the defendant believed that he didn't think Miss Harker still wanted to be on a break and blamed her family's influence over her to keep them apart.

Earlier in the case, jurors heard how Miss Harker's bruised and naked body was discovered in a tent belonging to her former partner which he had pitched in woodland near her North Yorkshire home.

Pathologist Dr Louise Mulcahy told Teesside Crown Court that was bruising to Miss Harker's neck and evidence that she had fresh water from a stream in her lungs.

Jurors heard how the 30-year-old also had abrasions and bruises on her body but there was no sign of significant head trauma which could have caused unconsciousness or disorientation.

Dr Mulcahy told the court how she discovered debris in the alleged victim's throat that was consistent with immersion in fresh water.

Pearson had told how Miss Harker had slipped into a stream, dragging him with her, as they walked through the woods.

He pulled her out of the water but was unable to resuscitate her and placed her in the tent to warm her up before passing out.

Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, denies murder and kidnap.

The trial is not sitting today and will resume tomorrow morning.