Cannibal victim's son jailed after court hears of horrific childhood

The son of a woman who was killed by a cannibal when he was a young boy has been jailed after the court heard details of his horrific childhood.

Freddie Newman
Freddie Newman

Julie Paterson was murdered in 1998 by David Harker, who strangled her to death in Darlington. He then mutilated and dismembered her body and claimed he cooked part of her leg and ate it.

On Friday, her son, Freddie Newman, 29, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via videolink from HMP Durham in relation to theft and possession of a bladed article.

Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, said that in December 2018, a woman had advertised a £900, 18 karat gold ring for sale on a social media site, in order to raise fund for Christmas.

The court heard that the defendant, calling himself Charlie, responded to the advert offering to purchase it and she drove to meet him at Halstead Place, South Shields, on December 22.

Mr Giuliani said: "The defendant gets into the car, takes the ring and runs off."

Unable to apprehend him, police posted an advert for another ring. A 'woman' responded and gave the same address in order to complete the purchase and police went and arrested Newman.

Mr Giuliani said that on the afternoon of August 19 of this year, six days after being given a suspended sentence at the magistrates court for a separate matter, Newman went to an Aldi store in South Shields and stole meat and electronic items along with another.

Mr Giuliani said: "They were seen to be stealing, they were chased out and as they were chased out the defendant dropped a knife."

When reprimanded by security staff, Newman said he would "stab them". A knife had been dropped, however, Mr Giuliani told the court that the staff were "fearful that he had another weapon on him."

He added that Newman also shouted: "I have a blade".

The court heard that on August 13, Newman was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months in relation to a number of thefts, failing to surrender and burglary.

Joe Hedworth, defending, said that Newman had had a horrific childhood and had turned to drugs as a result.

Mr Hedworth said: "First of all, at the age of six, a man by the name of Harker murders her (his mother) and mutilates her body.

"When he was 15, he came home from school with his sister and found his father hanging.

"That is why he is, I'm afraid, in the mess he is in. He has continued to use drugs to block that out."

In February 1999, Harker was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and given an indefinite jail term, with no parole for 14 years, after wreaking misery on the lives of his victim's family and friends.

Mr Hedworth said that Newman wished to apologise to the complainant in the case of the stolen ring.

In relation to the second incident, Mr Hedworth pointed out that the knife was already on the floor when he made those threats and said: "It was perhaps the most unprofessional offence that one could imagine.

"One is making a threat with nothing to back it up."

Mr Hedworth said that Newman had the knife in his possession because he was "cutting pipes for drugs".

Mr Hedworth asked the judge to keep the sentence as short as possible so that Newman could leave custody with a "clean slate".

He said: "He advises me that he wants to change his life around."

Newman, of Mill Dam, South Shields, pleaded guilty to theft, possession of a bladed article and two counts of shop theft at earlier hearings.

Judge Stephen Earl said there was "very little difference" between making a threat about a weapon he knew to be on him and about one he did not know he had dropped.

Judge Earl said he had taken his mitigation into consideration but added: "There have been a number of opportunities to address these issues."

Sentencing Newman for the theft and possession matters as well as taking into consideration the suspended sentence imposed at the magistrates court, Judge Earl jailed him for a total of 94 weeks.

Judge Earl said: "I hope that he takes the opportunity to deal with the drug matters and trauma counselling."