“There is evil in this world. We see it every day, but when it enters our lives directly, we realise how awful it is.”
-Emma MacGuire (Catherine Gowing's sister)
It was the 12th of October 2012. Catherine Gowing had finished work for the week. It was a Friday evening and she wasn't due back into work until Monday. She also had the house to herself for the weekend as her roommate Jane Doyle had gone back to Ireland for the weekend to visit her family.
Catherine was also from Ireland but lived and worked in Wales in the United Kingdom. She worked as a vet in a veterinary practice in Mold, Flintshire with Jane. They both met at University and after they graduated, they got a job in the same practice so it made sense for them to live together. The house they lived in was just a five minute drive from work too so it seemed ideal.
Mold appealed to Catherine as it was similar to her home in Offaly. Her parents, John and Maureen, had a farm so she was used to outdoors, farms, machinery and animals and that was what Mold had to offer too. When she arrived in Mold eighteen months earlier, it was a quiet little Welsh town with a population of less than 10000 people.
Catherine was thirty seven years old but had a child like sense of fun and adventure. She loved nothing more than travelling and exploring and adored animals. It was her dream to move back to the farm in Offaly and open her own veterinary practice one day.
That weekend, Catherine had a quiet couple of days planned and she was due to meet a friend for dinner on the Sunday evening. After she left work on the Friday, she stopped off at ASDA supermarket to get some food and then went straight home. When she left ASDA, it was around 8.45 pm.
CCTV of Catherine at ASDA that night
Nobody heard from Catherine that weekend. She didn't arrive on the Sunday evening to meet her friend for dinner as planned and when Jane got home from Ireland at 11pm Sunday night, Catherine wasn't home. On the Monday morning, Catherine failed to go to work. Everyone knew then there was something wrong and she was reported missing.
Her parents and her sister, Emma MacGuire, helped in the search for Catherine. A few days later, Catherine's car was found burnt out in woods near Mold but there was no sign of Catherine. A little over two weeks after she disappeared, a devastating discovery was made. Police divers found Catherine's right hand, foot and torso, in shallow water in Sealand. Police now knew that Catherine had been murdered and had suffered an extremely violent death.
At Catherine's house, there was no sign of any forced entry and nobody believed Catherine was due to meet anyone that evening. Police discovered semen on her bed and there was a piece of fabric attached to the leg of the bed. The semen was a match to forty six year old Clive Sharp.
Clive was no stranger to Catherine. He was a man who she disliked and felt uncomfortable around. She had confided in others about it but did not want to tell her roommate Jane out of loyalty to her. Jane and Clive were dating and Clive had stayed at the house a number of times. But that weekend, he knew Jane was away.
Clive was a production manager and worked in a nearby clothing factory. Police retraced his movements. On the 12th of October, the Friday evening, Clive met up with another woman he was also dating. He tied her to her bed and wanted to engage in various sexual acts. The woman refused to consent to engaging in the perverted acts and told him to stop. He left the house, leaving her still tied to the bed. After he left her house, he then drove to a hotel car park which was quite near to Catherine's house. He was spotted there on CCTV. It was around midnight.
Police believe he waited until the early hours of the following morning to break into Catherine's house. Even though there was no sign of forced entry, they did not believe Catherine would have let him in given her dislike of him. When he was in her bedroom, he tied her to her bed and over the course of four hours, repeatedly raped and sexually abused her.
At 6.45am on Saturday, the 13th of October, CCTV footage at the Beaufort Park Hotel showed Clive moving Catherine's car into the car park. Clive went to ASDA to buy a halloween mask, petrol can , bleach and a screwdriver. He bought a hacksaw and blades in a hardware store. Clive later collected Catherine's car before setting it on fire in woods near Mold.
The house Catherine lived in
At some point, Clive dismembered Catherine's body in an outside area and he placed her body parts in different bin bags and threw the bags in different locations around North Wales. While some of Catherine's remains were found, not all of them have been found. His DNA was found on the remains that were recovered.
Clive pleaded guilty to Catherine's murder. We will never know exactly what happened during those four hours and the days that followed as Clive destroyed all the evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 37 years.
At Clive's sentencing, the true horror of this story was revealed. Not only did Clive horrifically rape, murder and dismember an innocent and much loved woman, it was known that he was a danger to the public before that even took place. Catherine and Jane had no idea that the production manager Jane was dating had a secret and brutal past. Clive was a convicted rapist. His convictions for sexual offences dated back to 1982 when he was just sixteen years old.
As a teenager, Clive was jailed for three years for holding a piece of glass against a fifteen year old girl's neck and raping her. His crimes continued after he was released from prison. He assaulted the wife of a friend when she turned him down and was later jailed for eight years for false imprisonment when he threatened a woman with a knife and strangled her.
He later married and it ended in 2011. It was after that he began seeing Jane and spent time in their house. When Clive took part in a treatment programme for sex offenders, he spoke of "a longstanding fantasy of imprisoning, raping and murdering a woman".
This man has always been and will always be a danger to women. His actions his entire life have shown that to be true. He should never have been free to work with others, make friends with others and date women. His short sentences for his first two serious crimes meant that he was a free man that day in October. Notwithstanding that, Clive admitted his desire to murder a woman and he was still free to roam the streets like an ordinary hard working man. Unfortunately, he inevitably carried out his desire on Catherine Gowing.