Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Irish vet's sadistic killer unlikely ever to be freed

Catherine Gowing
Catherine Gowing
Emma Gowing
Emma Gowing
Clive Sharp
Clive Sharp

The man sentenced to life for raping and killing Irish vet Catherine Gowing is a convicted sex offender who previously admitted to fantasising about imprisoning and murdering women.

Clive Sharp (46) will serve a minimum of 37 years in jail after he pleaded guilty to sneaking into Catherine's house, tying her up, raping her multiple times and killing her.

He then dismembered her body and dumped her at a number of locations in north Wales, where she was working as a vet at the time. Sharp had left another woman tied up on a bed elsewhere in Wales on the night in question.

Catherine's sister Emma said that the life sentence meant that "today our world is a slightly safer place", adding: "No other woman will be harmed by the man who murdered my sister."

Emma and her husband Shay Maguire had stared intently at the glass-panelled dock where Sharp remained impassive throughout the hour-long hearing.

Mold Crown Court heard that Sharp had a number of previous convictions, including the rape of a 15-year-old in 1983, who he threatened by holding a broken glass to her neck.

And while he was in a sex offenders' programme in the 1990s, he had admitted to "a long-standing fantasy of imprisoning, raping and murdering a woman". Handing down the life sentence, Judge John Griffith-Williams branded Sharp a "cold-hearted murderer" and, addressing him directly, said he carried out the "horrific" crime "to gratify your perverted sexual desires".

Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said that Sharp must serve a minimum of 37 years due to the aggravated circumstances of the murder.

He told Sharp that he would never be released unless the parole board decides he is no longer a danger to women.

And the judge described as "particularly callous" the way in which he disposed of Catherine's body, which he said added to the family's "unimaginable pain".

The sentence would have been 42 years had Sharp not pleaded guilty, therefore sparing Catherine's family a long drawn-out trial.

But the most senior investigating police officer, DCI Mark Pierce, later said that the killer "pleaded guilty not through remorse, but only when faced with overwhelming evidence against him".

Sharp had previous convictions for sexual assault, false imprisonment and attempted strangulation.

After attending a sex offenders' programme in the 1990s, a report noted that Sharp "admitted that his offending could possibly escalate and result in murder" and that "it was thought that this might be his ultimate fantasy".

Sharp killed Catherine in the home she shared with another Irish vet, Jane Doyle, who he had been in a relationship with.

Ms Doyle knew nothing of his past and was away in Ireland on the weekend that Catherine was killed.

Background

Clive Sharp's history of threats and violence against women dates to 1982, when he was just 16. He was first convicted for "indecent and offensive" phone calls and letters to women. When he was 17 he was sentenced to three years for the rape of a girl (15). He received another three-year sentence in 1994 for "attempting to strangle" the wife of a friend.

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