A former Tesco worker has been convicted of kidnapping and murdering his ex-girlfriend after ambushing her in the woodland.
Andrew Lee Pearson, 45, set up a camouflaged tent and waited for 30-year-old Natalie Harker as she cycled to work from her home in Colburn, North Yorkshire, in October 2019.
He denied her murder and kidnap, but on Thursday jurors found him guilty of both counts.
Teesside Crown Court heard that Pearson, of Catterick, had told 999 that the two had been walking together in the wood when she fell.
He got his mother to call the emergency number 12 hours after he killed her, and he told the operator that she had slipped and fallen in a stream as they walked in the woods.
He claimed he passed out at the time due to shock.
Pearson led a police officer to her naked body, which was under a sleeping bag at the tent. The officer said the body felt cold and it appeared rigor mortis had set in.
Prosecutor Andrew MacDonald QC said Harker did not like dirt or insects and had a fear of stiles and barbed wire.
He said she would not go for a walk in the woods in the dark when she was meant to be going to work – a cleaning job at a health centre that she was conscientious of.
The tent was also set up in a rough section of woodland, MacDonald said, adding: “It was hardly a romantic setting, particularly on an October morning well before dawn.”
He told jurors that mobile phone analysis discovered a deleted message to a friend in the US, sent about 90 minutes before he called 999, which said: “I have killed Natalie, I’m going to hand myself in”.
He spent another 42 minutes on FaceTime with the friend, jurors were told, and the prosecution said this went against his assertion that he passed out before calling emergency services.
The court heard Harker split up with Pearson in the weeks before she died and had complained to a friend that he was pestering her.
Jurors heard how jobless Pearson told Andrea Nolan, a former colleague of Harker’s, that the defendant said the two were having a “bit of a break”.
She said he blamed Harker’s mother and told her he “hoped (Harker) would live to regret her decisions and life has a way of coming full circle”.
Harker had told another Tesco employee, Chrissy Peacock, that she was getting “scary texts” from Pearson and his mother.
Pearson told the court he did not assault Harker, intend to hurt her or intend to kill her.
However, the jury disagreed and he will be sentenced on Friday, when he faces a life sentence.