THE devastating impact of a young woman's brutal murder was laid bare in court as her family spoke of their heartbreak.

Natalie Harker's death has left a huge whole in her tight-knit family which can never be filled.

In a moving tribute to Natalie, her family spoke of how their lives had been irreparably broken by her death.

John Harker's emotional statement was read out in Teesside Crown Court by Chloe Fairley, prosecuting.

He wrote: "Since Natalie's death I have struggled to sleep, I keep waking in the night expecting her to walk in the house.

"I expect to come downstairs in the morning and she is sat their in the living room waiting for me with a cup of tea. When I come to the realisation that she is not there it really hits me.

"It is such a gut-wrenching feeling knowing I will never get to speak with her or have these moments again."

He added: "I constantly get images in my head about what Natalie was going through on the morning that she died. Was she calling out for me to help her? Was she in pain?

"These are questions I will always ask myself and wonder if there was anything I could have done to help her.

"It's a horrible feeling for a father, for a parent, to know that your child may have needed you but you weren't there. I will always live with the thought of what if."

The Northern Echo: Natalie HarkerNatalie Harker

Her mother, Deborah, told how the pair had grown inseparable over the years and were described as 'two peas in a pod'.

She said: "Natalie said I was her best friend and I think we would have gone on to be closer and closer and closer. Natalie always said her family and her home were her safe place, a place where she was most comfortable and relaxed.

"That gives me pleasure to think she felt like that."

And her brother, Alister, added he felt like he had lost his 'right arm' as they were always together.

He wrote: "I feel like I am lost without Natalie, completely on my own and abandoned. Having to deal with her death and investigation on my own was so difficult."