Tied up, raped and murdered - killer gets life for Catherine's brutal slaying
Published 25/02/2013 | 12:12
A MAN has been sentenced to a minimum term of 37 years for the brutal rape and murder of Irish vet Catherine Gowing in Wales last year.
Clive Sharp (46) may spend the rest of his life in jail after sneaking into Ms Gowing’s house, tied her up and viciously raping her before killing the Co Offaly woman, chopping up her body and dumping her in rivers and pools across North Wales.
Her distraught mother, Maureen has spoken of how Sharp, has “ruined lives” and how the family will “never be the same again” after the loss of the 37-year-old vet.
Speaking on the eve of the sentencing she said she can’t bear to hear Sharp’s name spoken, and said that she wouldn’t be satisfied with the life sentence handed down today.
Catherine’s sister Emma and her husband Shay Maguire were in Mold Crown Court to see Sharp being sentenced.
They stared at him intently throughout the hearing while he remained impassive in the dock behind glass screens.
Emma Gowing told the court in a victim impact statement: "My sister was a vibrant, wonderful woman, who lived life fully, with love, compassion, fun, adventure and joy.
"Our lives will never be the same. That man has caused my family unimaginable pain, suffering and grief and the recurring nightmare of what he did to her before she died."
Handing down the life sentence, Judge John Griffith-Williams described Sharps crime as a "horrific" and "carried out to gratify your perverted sexual desires".
The judge said Sharp broke into Ms Gowing's house in the middle of the night, tied her to the bed and kept her prisoner while she was raped repeatedly and sexually abused.
The court heard that Sharp had convictions for sexual offences dating back to 1982 when he was 16.
Just hours before the murder he left another woman tied to a bed after she refused to take part in perverted sexual acts, Mold Crown Court heard.
The judge described his chopping up and disposal at different locations of Ms Gowing’s body as "callous" saying it added to her family's grief.
Catherine was last seen on CCTV footage from an Asda supermarket near Mold on the evening of Friday October 12.
She was reported missing when she failed to turn up for work the following week and Sharp was arrested on suspicion of her murder and later charged.
He knew Catherine through her house mate Co Meath-woman Jane Doyle who worked in the same veterinary practice as the murdered woman.
Ms Doyle was Sharp’s ex-girlfriend.
Sharp, who worked in a local factory, kept his violent history from both women.
In fact his first conviction dated back to 1982 when he sent letters and used the telephone to make indecent and offensive remarks to a number of women.
Just a year later he was jailed for three years after holding a piece of glass to the neck of a 15-year-old girl and raping her.
In 1994 he choked and assaulted a woman, the wife of a friend, who refused his advances and two years later was jailed for eight years for false imprisonment and wounding.
He took a woman back to his bedsit, threatened her with a knife and strangled her.
Mr Thomas told the court of previous reports on Sharp in which he admitted his offending "could escalate" and he told of his imprisonment and rape fantasies which had two endings - the woman lives when he grows tired of her or ends up dead, "either strangled or drowned".
After serving out his last sentence, Sharp married and there was no further offending the authorities knew of, the court heard.
But his marriage ended in 2011 and Sharp had a number of short liaisons before beginning a relationship with Ms Gowing's friend.
He appeared "relatively charming and plausible" and lied about his background and began to sleep over at the house the women shared.
Ms Gowing was not happy with the situation but, "out of loyalty" to her friend, did not kick up a fuss.
Mr Thomas added: "Privately she confided in others she was uncomfortable about this arrangement and she herself did not like the defendant."
On Friday October 12 last year, Miss Gowing was at home alone because her friend had gone back to Ireland to see her family for the weekend.
After finishing work she visited her local Asda supermarket at around 8.45pm, where she was caught on CCTV - the last time she was seen alive.
That night Sharp went to spend time with another woman he was secretly seeing.
"The defendant tied her to the bed," Mr Thomas said.
"It then became clear he wanted to perform acts she did not want. They argued, she told him 'emphatically' to stop.
"He walked out, leaving that lady tied to the bed,"
Sharp was seen on CCTV at around midnight, leaving his Volvo in a local hotel car park close to Ms Gowing's home.
The court heard it is likely he waited and watched the house into the early hours and until Ms Gowing went to sleep.
There was no sign of a forced entry to the property but it was thought "highly unlikely" that Miss Gowing would have let him in.
What exactly happened during the attack is not known, the court heard, but Sharp's semen was later found on bedding and a piece of fabric was left tied to one leg of the bed.
Next day he went to Asda, bought bleach, bin bags, a petrol can, a screwdriver and a Halloween mask.
He also bought a hacksaw and blades from a local hardware store and that night torched Ms Gowing's car, leaving it burnt out in a local quarry.
Mr Thomas said the victim's body was at some point dismembered out in the open and wrapped in the bin bags ready for disposal.
Catherine’s burnt-out car was found in a wooded-area near Mold almost a week after her disappearance and her sister Emma travelled to Wales with her husband Shay to make an emotional appeal for help finding her saying that the family were “devastated” that she had vanished.
Their worst fears were realised when some of Catherine’s remains were found in a shallow pool near Sealand, North East Wales at the start of November, with police making another discovery in the following days on the banks for the River Dee on the border with England.
Hundreds of people turned out for her funeral in Kinnity, Co Offaly, on January 3 with her parents John and Maureen joined by family, friends and Catherine’s work colleagues from Wales.
During the ceremony her sister Emma spoke of the family’s horror at Catherine’s death saying: “There is evil in this world. We see it every day, but when it enters our lives directly, we realise how awful it is.”
She added: “Our hearts are broken, we miss her, we love her, but Catherine is in a good place.”