Welsh man could face rest of his life in jail

Tue, Jan 15, 2013, 00:00

Welshman Clive Sharp, who pleaded guilty yesterday to the murder of Offaly vet Catherine Gowing, could spend the rest of his life in jail, a judge has warned.

Sharp (46), Bethesda, Gwynedd, pleaded guilty at Mold Crown Court to killing the Irish woman, who vanished on October 12th last just a couple of hours after she had finished work. He will be sentenced on February 25th.

During an eight-minute hearing, Sharp, who has been in custody since November, said nothing other than confirming his name and entering a guilty plea.

Mr Justice John Griffith-Williams said the circumstances in the case meant that Sharp could be held in prison for the rest of his life.

Minimum term

“There is only one sentence I can pass on you for this offence, as you will know. I have to work out what the minimum term you will serve is before the parole board consider you for release – if you are ever to be released,” the judge said.

While he would not need extra pre-sentencing or psychiatric reports before passing sentence, the judge did seek more information about Sharp’s previous convictions and past reports, where he had detailed his fantasies.

Members of Ms Gowing’s family, including her sister Emma and brother-in-law, Shay Maguire, were in court.

The judge noted that the delay in sentencing would add to the Offaly family’s upset.

Funeral Mass

Hundreds of people attended a funeral Mass for Ms Gowing ((37) in Kinnitty, Co Offaly, earlier this month. She was last seen alive shortly before 9pm on October 12th leaving a supermarket in Queensferry.

Her Irish-registered Renault Clio was found burned out a week later at an old quarry just a couple of miles from her home in New Brighton, Flintshire.

Some of her remains were later found at Sealand and on the banks of the river Dee near Chester, although police turned their attentions last month to a popular fishing spot called the Trap Pool at Buckley, several miles away.

Sharp, who is originally from Sealand on Deeside but who had an address at an industrial estate called Coedy Parc in Bethesda in Gwynedd, was remanded in custody pending his sentencing next month.

Budapest university

Ms Gowing had been living in New Brighton for about 18 months after she qualified as a vet at a university in Budapest, Hungary.

She was described as popular, hard-working and someone who loved working with animals. Locals held vigils in churches of all faiths to pray for her safe return.