A MAN has been found guilty of the murder and kidnap of his former partner.

Andrew Pearson was accused of holding Natalie Harker’s head under water until she died after intercepting her on her way to work last October.

A jury took less than two hours to convict the 45-year-old guilty of both charges.

Judge Stephen Ashurst warned the defendant that he faced a life in prison but will not learn the length of sentence until this afternoon after personal impact statements have been heard.

He said: "In respect of count one there is only one sentence the law allows me to pass and that is one of life imprisonment but a judge is required to assess the minimum term the defendant must serve before he can be considered for release by the parole board."

The Northern Echo: Natalie HarkerNatalie Harker

Teesside Crown Court heard how Pearson called a friend in America after sending him a message admitting what he had done, he wrote “Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I’m going to hand myself in.”

The prosecution said he had set up a camouflaged tent and lay in wait in the dark for the 30-year-old cleaner as she cycled to work from her home in Colburn, North Yorkshire, last October.

Pearson is believed to have then dragged her to his camp where he stripped her naked and had sexual intercourse with her – the jury heard it was unclear whether that happened when she was dead or alive.

A post mortem revealed she had died as a result of compression to the neck and immersion in water.

A recording of a 999 call was played to jurors where Pearson and his mother could be heard crying and babbling as the operator attempted to work out where they were and why they hadn't called for help for 12 hours.

Witnesses had said Miss Harker had raised concerns about her former partner following her when she was going to and from work in the weeks leading up to her death.

With one saying Pearson had told her 'He hoped she would live to regret her decision and life has a way of coming full circle' after they split up a month before she was murdered.

Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at 2pm tomorrow.