North East Wales

Catherine Gowing murder: Vet's killer must serve 37 years

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Media captionClive Sharp broke into Catherine Gowing's home in the middle of the night

A man who raped and murdered his girlfriend's housemate before dismembering her body will serve a minimum of 37 years.

Clive Sharp, 46, of Bethesda, Gwynedd, admitted killing Irish vet Catherine Gowing, 37, and was sentenced to life at Mold Crown Court in Flintshire.

His DNA was found on some remains found at a quarry and near the River Dee.

The judge Mr Justice Griffith-Williams told Sharp: "You are on any view a very serious danger to women."

"What happened in that period of nearly four hours is known only to you," he added.

The court heard factory worker Sharp was fulfilling "a longstanding fantasy of imprisoning, raping and murdering a woman".

It was something he had revealed while on a treatment programme for sex offenders in the 1990s.

Sharp had previously been jailed twice for rape and sexual assaults.

Passing sentence, the judge told Sharp: "This is a horrific, cold hearted murder, carried out to gratify your perverted sexual desires."

Just hours before the murder, the court heard how Sharp had his plans for a night of sex with another woman thwarted.

He then drove from Gwynedd to Flintshire where he had been in a relationship with vet Jane Doyle, a friend and work colleague of Miss Gowing.

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Media captionCatherine Gowing's sister, Emma: "Her light is gone from our mortal world"

The two women lived together at a house in Cae Isa, New Brighton, near Mold, but that night he knew that Miss Doyle had flown back to Ireland to see her family.

Miss Gowing confided in others that she did not like the defendant but did not tell Miss Doyle out of loyalty.

Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, said: "This was a sexually-motivated murder in which the defendant entered the house in the middle of the night, tied Miss Gowing up and raped her.

Image caption Clive Sharp leaving court to start his sentence

"He killed her then mutilated her body by cutting it into pieces and disposing of it in and near to the River Dee. He also disposed of evidence, for example by setting fire to Miss Gowing's car in a quarry."

Following the hearing, Ms Gowing's sister Emma described Catherine as a shining light.

"What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal," she said.

"She was a beautiful light, she shone very brightly. She enriched the lives of all she encountered, all God's creatures.

"Her light is gone from our mortal world. She now shines elsewhere."

Mr Justice Griffith-Williams told Sharp that he would have imposed a minimum term of 42 years but for the fact that he had pleaded guilty.

But he stressed that the 37 year tariff was a minimum term, saying Sharp would only be released when he was no longer considered a danger to women, which "may never be so".

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Media captionDetective Superintendent Mark Pierce: "I doubt a tear will be shed if he is never released"

Teams of 40 specially trained police officers and underwater divers spent nearly three weeks searching for Miss Gowing, before the first human remains were uncovered at a shallow pond in Sealand.

The location was close to where Sharp had once lived with his mother.

Two days later, more remains were found at the River Dee in Higher Ferry, Chester.

Despite the largest search in North Wales Police history, the force says it has been unable to recover all of her remains, with Sharp failing to provide any information ahead of his conviction.

More than 300 people attended a funeral for Miss Gowing in Kinnitty, County Offaly, in January.

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