Man facing life for Gowing murder
A man is facing life in jail after confessing to the murder of Irish vet Catherine Gowing.
Clive Sharp (46) spoke only once during the brief court hearing to enter his guilty plea to the murder of Ms Gowing, whose body has never been fully recovered.
Her sister Emma and brother-in-law Shay Maguire sat in court yards from the dock listening intently to proceedings as heavily-built Sharp was brought up from the cells at Mold Crown Court, North Wales.
Flanked by two prison officers, the defendant, sat in the dock with his head down for most of the hearing. He faces an automatic life sentence but must wait until a further hearing next month to discover how long he will serve before he can be considered for parole.
Ms Gowing (37) who was originally from Co Offaly, was reported missing on October 15th, last year, when she failed to arrive at work at the Evans Veterinary Practice in Mold, north Wales. The last confirmed sighting was at a supermarket in nearby Queensferry the previous Friday.
Her disappearance sparked the largest search operation ever mounted by North Wales Police.
But despite an anguished wait from her loved ones for her safe return, human remains, later confirmed to be those of Ms Gowing, were found in a shallow pool in a field in Sealand, Deeside, more than two weeks later.
Further remains were discovered at another rural location two days later on the banks of the River Dee, but police say the search will continue.
Sharp, of no fixed address but who is from the Sealand area on Deeside, is understood to have been friends with a woman who shared a house with Ms Gowing, though no evidence was heard in court today and the exact details of how she came to her death were not given.
Sharp admitted her murder sometime between October 11th and October 17th last year.
Ms Gowing had been living in Flintshire for about 18 months after qualifying from a university in Budapest, Hungary.
At her packed funeral service earlier this month at St Finnan’s Church in Kinnitty, Co Offally, not far from her family home, her sister described Ms Gowing as the “closest thing to perfection” who was doing her dream job, working with animals.
Her devastated parents John and Maureen, led mourners at the service along with family from across Ireland, the UK and USA, and friends and staff from the veterinary practice where she worked.
Sharp must wait to be sentenced as Mr Justice Griffith Williams said he has yet to determine the minimum term he must serve before he can be considered for release.
The judge also said there were a “number of concerns” about the murder that he needed to consider before setting a minimum term of imprisonment.
The court heard in a report on the defendant that Sharp had “expressed his fantasies” and the judge asked prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC for a complete history of Sharp’s criminal record to be prepared.
Adjourning sentencing until next month, the judge told Sharp: “There is only one sentence I can impose upon you for this offence, as you well know.
“I have to indicate the minimum term you will serve before the parole board will consider your release — if you are ever to be released.Sentencing is adjourned until Monday the 25th of February. You can be taken down.”
Sharp puffed out his cheeks as he was led down from the dock to the cells. Ms Gowing’s family left court today without comment but it is understood they will make statements about the case after Sharp is sentenced next month.