Man gets life for Gowing murder

Catherine Gowing (left), was murderd by Clive Sharp (right) last October. Photographs: PA Wire

Catherine Gowing (left), was murderd by Clive Sharp (right) last October. Photographs: PA Wire

Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 00:00

A man was sentenced to life in prison by a court in Wales today for the murder of Irish vet Catherine Gowing.

Clive Sharp, was jailed for a minimum of 37 years for the brutal killing of Offaly vet Catherine Gowing last year. The court heard today he  had previously committed a series of sexual offences, including rape.

Sentencing Sharp at Mold Crown Court, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said it was clear from interviews he had with sexual offences experts in the 1990s after earlier crimes that the 46-year-old had fantasied for years about kidnapping, tying up, raping and murdering a woman.

Ms Gowing, who came from Kinnity, Co Offaly, was last seen alive on the evening of Friday, October 12th, 2012, when she was spotted on CCTV leaving a supermarket in Queensferry, where she bought food for the week.

Prosecuting counsel Andrew Thomas detailed how Sharp had been in a relationship with Ms Gowing's house-mate, fellow Irishwoman, Jane Doyle, though Ms Gowing had privately told friends that she did not like him

Sharpe had visited a woman in Gwyneth with whom he was having a sexual relationship on the night that Ms Gowing was killed, but he left her tied to the bed after she had refused him anal sex, the court was told. From there, he drove to a hotel carpark near Ms Gowing's house. Shortly after midnight he left the car returning sometime later because, the judge said, he had discovered that Ms Gowing was still awake.

Shortly before 3am, he broke into her house, subjecting his victim to an horrific ordeal.. She was tied up, gagged and repeatedly raped, Mr Thomas told Mold Crown Court, watched by Ms Gowing's sister, Emma and brother-in-law, Shay Maguire.

On Saturday afternoon, he bought a heavy-duty hacksaw, spare blades, strong tape, black bin-liners and other items, including a Halloween mask before returning to the house to move Ms Gowing's car, an Opel Corsa.

Sharp had known that his victim would be alone because he knew that Ms Doyle - who had met Ms Gowing when both studied veterinary in Budapest - had returned to Ireland to visit family for the weekend.

Having dismembered his victim, Sharpe threw away body parts in three known locations in North Walsh. So far, the court was told, Ms Gowing's right foot and hand, along with her torso, have been recovered.

His destruction of her body had "added immeasurably" to the grief of Ms Gowing's family and friends, Mr Justice Griffith-Williams told Sharp, who wore a grey jogging jumper and bottoms for his court appearance.

In 1992, Sharp was convicted of making offensive telephone calls, and posting offensive letters to a number of women. A year later, he raped a 15-year-old, forcing her to submit by holding a piece of glass to her neck.

In 1994, he was convicted of attempting to strangle the wife of one of his close friends who had resisted his sexual advances. He bound and gagged her and was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman.

In 1996 he attacked a prostitute he had brought back to his bed-sit. Again, he bound and gagged her, and tried to strangle her and held her down and threatened her with a knife when she tried to escape.

He later married, a fact, said Mr Justice Griffith-Williams, that might explain the gaps in his sexual offences history, though the marriage broke up in 2011. He moved out of the house and slept in a factory he worked in in Gwyneth.

Speaking outside the court, the murder victim's sister Emma told reporters that "the world is a slightly safer place" now that Sharpe is in jail. "No other woman will be hurt by the man who murdered my sister."

Her sister had been "a special woman, a wonderful daughter and sister" who had lived her life with kindness, compassion, warmth and fun, said Ms Gowing, who praised North Wales Police for the dedication and integrity shown during the investigation.

Leading investigating officer, Det Supt Mark Pierce said Sharp had pleaded guilty at a hearing in Mold Crown Court in January not out of remorse, but because he had been faced with "overwhelming evidence" against him.