A CALCULATING murderer who abducted and killed his former partner has been jailed for almost 24 years.

Andrew Pearson grabbed Natalie Harker before dragging her into woodland and having sex with her when she was either ‘unconscious or dying’ as she was forcibly restrained.

He had laid in wait for Miss Harker as she cycled to work along a pitch-black lane in October last year before striking at around 4.30am.

The 45-year-old had planned the abduction in meticulous detail before launching his jealous attack just weeks after she broke off their relationship.

The Northern Echo: Natalie HarkerNatalie Harker

Friends and family had urged the victim to report Pearson to the police following a campaign of stalking, intimidation and harassment following their breakup.

Miss Harker’s lifeless, naked and bruised body was discovered in a tent pitched by Pearson 12 hours after she went missing.

Teesside Crown Court heard how there was evidence that Miss Harker’s hands were bound with tape as he dragged her to secluded woodland and killed her by applying pressure to her neck and submersing her head in water.

Chloe Fairley, prosecuting, told the court how Miss Harker’s murder had a devastating impact on her family.

She said marks and blood on Natalie’s body prove she was “unconscious, incapacitated or dead” when Pearson had sex with her.

The Northern Echo: Pearson's tent in the woodlandPearson's tent in the woodland

Pearson is thought to have spent several hours in his tent with her lifeless body before sending a message to a friend in America confessing to what he had done and calling his mother for help.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said Pearson’s failure to seek help for a woman he had loved was a ‘serious aggravating factor’.

He said only Pearson would know precisely what happened when he killed her by holding her underwater while compressing her neck.

The judge added: “What happened thereafter was extraordinary.

“You took her lifeless body into the tent, stripped her of her clothes which you then folded and took into another part of the tent.

“Whether she was still breathing or not, you thought only of yourself, not just in the shock of the moment, but for hour after hour.”

The court heard he did not summon help for the 30-year-old churchgoer, but messaged a friend in the US, saying: “Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I’m going to hand myself in.”

He then spent 42 minutes on a FaceTime call with that friend while in the tent with his ex-girlfriend’s body.

John Elvidge QC, defending, said the killing, as opposed to the kidnap, was not premeditated.

Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, was jailed for 23 years and 320 days for murder and given a concurrent five-year sentence of kidnap.

The Northern Echo: DI Steve MenziesDI Steve Menzies

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Steve Menzies, of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “Only Pearson knows what motivated him to kidnap and murder her. Only he knows if it was through jealously or anger in refusing to believe that his relationship with Natalie was over for good.”