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David James HARKER





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Sex with the corpse - Claimed to have cooked and ate part of his victim
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 1998
Date of birth: 1975
Victim profile: Julie Paterson, 32
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Darlington, County Durham, England, United Kingdom
Status: Plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years on February 10, 1999

Cannibal killer David Harker admitted to manslaughter in the death of 32-year-old Julie Paterson, on grounds of diminished responsibility. Prosecutor Paul Worsley told Teesside Crown Court in northeast England that Harker confided to a psychiatrist that he chopped up his victim and ate part of her body with pasta and cheese.

Harker, 24, who has the words "Subhuman" and "Disorder" tattooed on his scalp, claimed he strangled mother-of-four Julie Paterson with her tights after he "got bored" during a sex session. He told psychiatrists he then had sex with her before chopping off her head and limbs, slicing flesh from her thigh, skinning it and cooking it.


Killer claims 'I ate victim'

By Louise Jury - The Independent

Thursday, 11 February 1999

A KILLER who claimed to have cooked and ate part of his female victim was jailed for life yesterday after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Teeside Crown Court was told that David Harker, 24, of Darlington, Co Durham, could kill again. Julie Paterson, 32, a mother of four, was strangled last April and her dismembered body found on wasteland.

Mr Justice Bennett told Harker, earlier described as one of Britain's most dangerous psychopaths: "You killed her in the most terrible circumstances and dismembered her body. You glorified in her death and the manner of her death. I have no doubt that given the slightest opportunity you will kill again."

Harker killed Ms Paterson after meeting her in a pub and taking her back to his flat in Darlington. He strangled her, then claimed that he cut strips of flesh from her thigh, which he cooked and ate with pasta and cheese. He claimed to have had sex with the corpse before wiping it down with bleach and sawing off the head and limbs. He then dumped the torso in a bin-bag on wasteland near Darlington football club. Ms Paterson's head was never found.

Harker was arrested afterone of an estimated 25 people to whom he boasted of the killing realised that he was telling the truth and contacted the police. They found bloodstains and some of her clothing in the basement where he lived.

Paul Worsley, prosecuting, said Harker was obsessed with serial killers and avidly read any book or viewed any programme on the subject.

He told friends his ambition was to be Britain's most notorious serial killer.

The last reported sighting of Ms Paterson was on 16 April last year. She was believed to have been killed shortly after.

Mr Justice Bennett accepted a plea of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.


The deadly charmer

February 11, 1999

David James Harker is a complex man. To the many people who knew him he could be intelligent, articulate, witty, caring and polite. And when it came to women, he could certainly turn on the charm.

Women found him attractive and he had no difficulty getting sex. He led a promiscuous sex life and, even when he was in a relationship, found it difficult to remain faithful.

But the 24-year-old also had a darker side. He told lies to try to impress friends and needed to be constantly in control. When he couldn't be, it resulted in drink-fuelled tantrums, aggression and, ultimately, violence.

He spent much of his time in Stanhope Park, in Darlington, so drunk on strong cider that he was frequently sick.

His fantasy to kill and obsession with serial murderers was at the centre of his life.

But even though he was widely known as saying everybody had either a "V" or an "I" on their chest, to signify "victim" or "innocent", nobody could have imagined the horror to which it would lead.

Harker would spend hours in his flat in Harewood Grove reading macabre books and watching grisly videos.

It has been said that he was more well-read on serial killers than some forensic psychiatrists.

Among the literature he read were books on how to evade questions in police interviews and how to survive in prison.

We will never truly know if, while reading, Harker was planning his own tale of butchery, or if Julie's death was simply a fantasy which went out of control during a drinking binge.

If it was the latter, it may well be that in killing Julie he surprised himself.

The mutilation that followed could have been committed out of panic and desperation when he realised, in the cold light of day, what he had done.

On the other hand, he could be a psychopath who had planned Julie's death all along.

He has admitted to The Northern Echo that he wanted to be a serial killer.

His downfall was his need to brag. He told no less than 28 people what he had done to Julie.

A friend, Mike Farrant, said Harker had given himself the name Devil Man and tried to live up to that image.

"He liked to portray himself as that and would pick fights with people, but I certainly wasn't frightened of him. I suppose some of the younger lads might have been.

"When we heard he had been arrested for murder, we couldn't believe it because he could be such a good bloke. We knew he could lose it - but not like that." One thing is for certain, Harker now sees himself as a kind of chilling Hannibal Lecter-type character.

Since his arrest last May, his appearance has changed. He has gone from being a good looking, well-built, strong man to a lanky, insipid and arrogant being, who looks ill. He gives the impression of having spent years constructing an image of himself and it is now doubtful if even he knows the real Harker anymore.

In recent months he has even taken on the appearance of what he thinks Harker, the butcher, should look like.

His previously shaven head, that revealed his tattooed scalp, bearing the words "sub-human" and "disorder", is now thick with dark hair. And he now boasts a full black beard, giving him the look of one of his heroes, serial killer Peter Sutcliffe.

Add to that his ice blue eyes and his frighteningly long, sinuous fingers, and he fits the bill perfectly.

For him, it's all part of a role he is playing out. A character in a grisly horror story - written by his own hand.

Harker was brought up in Second Avenue, Chester-le-Street, by his mother Jacqueline and father Alan, along with his younger brother Stephen.

He had a tempestuous relationship with his parents and had not spoken to them for months prior to his arrest.

From a young age, he would torture and mutilate small creatures.

His youthful problems came to a head when, at 16, he was sent to Deerbolt Young Offenders' Institution, at Barnard Castle, County Durham, for attacking two men and their dog. The dog later died.

His parents have refused to comment about their eldest son. His mother, looking pale and drawn, would last week say only that the family was aware of his imminent appearance in court, but that she was "tired and not interested".

It seemed her unconditional love and maternal instinct had been worn away to leave nothing but heartache.

Yet despite his drunken and abusive tendencies, Harker had a circle of friends both wide and varied.

A talented skateboarder, the former punk had befriended a number of boys younger than himself, aged between 15 and 17 - probably targeted by him because he felt he could impress them with lies and control them. Many of them feared him.

At Stanhope Park, Harker would sit on a bench while youngsters, often as many as 15, sat on the grass about him in a semi-circle. He treated them like his disciples.

He was also lead singer in a punk, hardcore band, named Downfall, and was friends with a number of students at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington. They did not drink like he did or have the same interest in violence, but they found him intelligent and good fun to be around.

He was caring too. Prior to his arrest, Harker was planning to travel to India to do charity work and at one stage was even organising a charity concert.

Another friend, Steven Crane, of Harrison Terrace, Darlington, said: "One of the reasons I liked Harker was because he hated bigoted people, like racists.

"He would always stick up for people who could not help their situation. He couldn't stand sex offenders and people who were horrible to children. That all seems so strange now, knowing what he did to Julie Paterson." After Harker had finished with a previous girlfriend, who is the mother of his four-year-old son, he became depressed and ended up sleeping rough.

He spent time at Darlington YMCA, and would stay at friends houses, even sleeping in a garden shed at one point.

It was his charm that always saw him through.

Twenty-year-old Mr Farrant offered him a place to sleep for a couple of nights at his parents' home in Orchard Road, in the Denes area of Darlington.

He said: "He was such a nice guy, my mum and dad said he could stay for as long as he liked. He ended up with his own room and was here for about six months.

"He did his bit around the house and always paid his way. If he borrowed money, he always made sure people got it back. He was polite and respectful. If he hadn't been, there is no way my parents would have let him stay that long.

"That is the strange thing about him, he had a good and bad side. He wanted to look bad and he's acting out a part. I think he's pathetic.

"If I'd known then what I know now, I would have left him where I found him - on a bench in the park." Neighbours inHarewood Grove said they saw little of Harker. The front door to his flat was broken, so he entered the building by the back door. But they accused him of compounding a problem with rats . . . by feeding them as pets.

Stuart Boulton, a photographer at The Northern Echo, lived in the flat where Julie Paterson was killed immediately prior to David Harker moving in. He moved out because a bigger apartment had become available two doors away.

He met him on a few occasions and Harker even helped him move his furniture out of the flat.

Mr Boulton said: "I found him quite pleasant every time I spoke to him. In fact, he was fairly quiet, but you could crack on with him and have a chat.

"But I realised he had another side to him when I saw him one night in the Tap n' Spile in Darlington. He went into a rage for some unknown reason and put his fist through a window. He was barred from a lot of the pubs in town.

"I went back into Harker's flat early last April. I couldn't believe the state it was in. There was a stench of beer and you couldn't see the floor for empty cans and bottles. In his bedroom there was just a mattress and lots of pornographic magazines. I just thought how sad it was."


Cannibal is begged to finally tell all

May 15, 2006

Cannibal killer David Harker is to be begged to finally give up his grisly secrets. The real-life Hannibal Lecter has never revealed where he dumped the remains of mutilated mother-of-four Julie Paterson.

The 31-year-old's torso was found in the garden of a derelict house eight years ago tomorrow after she was strangled with her own tights.

But despite detectives searching through 20,000 tons of rubbish at Coxhoe tip in County Durham and in rivers and ponds, her head and limbs have never been found, despite pleas from her family to be allowed to give her a proper funeral.

Now Chief Supt Dave Jones, of Durham Police, who led the inquiry, is to visit Harker in his secure hospital for the first time since he was convicted of her killing and ask him where the remains are hidden.

He said he was planning to retire next year, but his final wish was to bring closure to Julie's death.

Julie's father, Jim Paterson, 68, of Durham City, said he could not fault the police and said Chief Supt Jones had his blessing to go back.

He said: "I hope and pray the officer comes back with some good news.

"It would be nice to finally lay Julie's remains to rest, but I have a feeling Harker will be as arrogant and cold as ever. I have been told that he has not changed one bit."

Mr Paterson said there was not a day that went by when he did not think about Julie, and he regularly visited her grave.

"I still feel very angry about what Harker did," he said.

"I go to church every Sunday, but I'm not the kind of person that can forgive something like that.

"I don't think about Harker now, though. I just think about Julie. I only hope that he tells us what he did with her remains, then we can have closure."

Chief Supt Jones said: "Since the case concluded, the only question remaining is the whereabouts of Julie's missing body parts, which has never been established.

"I have never been to see Harker since he was convicted because I took the view that he would tell us to get lost. He refused to speak to the police back then, so I decided to let it settle before approaching him again in the hope it would give him time to think about it.

"If he has any kind of conscience and any shred of compassion, he will tell us. I feel I still owe it to Julie's family to try to bring it to a conclusion.

"They understandably want to make sure all of her remains are given a proper burial."

Julie's body was found in the garden of a derelict house in Polam Lane, Darlington, on May 16, 1998.

Harker was given a life sentence, with no chance of parole for 14 years, in February 1999, after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Julie on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Chief Supt Jones said Harker, now 32, could not be considered for parole for another six years, but he wanted to know the case was resolved before he retired.

He said: "It was such a dreadful and unusual case, certainly the most unusual case I have ever been involved in - and so tragic in so many ways. I know this might stir up old memories for her family, but it is an attempt to give the family closure and Julie some dignity. She deserves that."


Cannibal Killer

This documentary examines the case of David Harker, who killed Darlington woman Julie Paterson and claimed to have eaten her flesh. The film follows the trail of human devastation in the wake of Harker’s crime, which was to claim two more lives.

In 1998, the town of Darlington was rocked by the brutal murder of Julie Paterson and the arrest of her killer, David Harker. This film combines interviews conducted in 2000 with new insights from witnesses, police officers and local reporters to unpick the story of Harker’s terrible deed and its deadly consequences.

The man who was to be dubbed the ‘British Cannibal’ moved to Darlington in 1995, aged 23. By all accounts, Harker was a lively, unpredictable man who surrounded himself with impressionable young friends. Yet he harboured disturbing fantasies and would later profess his desire to become Britain’s youngest serial killer.

Julie Paterson, meanwhile, was a 31-year-old mother-of-four who had lost her children in a custody battle and was battling depression, alcohol and Valium addiction. Her boyfriend at the time, Alan Taylor, recalled that Paterson would frequently disappear for days on end. It was only when she missed crucial appointments with her children that he first alerted the police.

An appeal to the public yielded the information that Paterson was last seen in the company of David Harker. Acting on a tip-off, detectives were called to a secluded lane where they were shocked to find parts of Paterson’s dismembered body in a sack. “We could clearly see on the top of the sack the shoulder blades of a human being,” recalls Detective Inspector Ian Phillips.

Prior to the gruesome find, Harker had bragged to numerous friends that he had killed Paterson and mutilated her body – but no one had believed him. “He boasted about how he chopped up Julie,” recalls his friend Matt Fairly. “Obviously, he was drunk, so I just passed it off and didn’t believe him.” A search of Harker’s flat provided police with all the proof they needed, with the discovery of Paterson’s belongings and pools of blood on the floor.

Harker at first denied the crime and refused to reveal where Paterson’s missing head and limbs were buried. His denial prompted a massive police operation as the entire town was swept for Julie’s remains. Officers spent weeks searching a landfill site in vain before the hunt was finally called off.

Harker, meanwhile, was diagnosed as having all the criteria of a psychopathic killer who felt no remorse for his crime. His story became more outrageous, as he claimed to have killed two more people and to have committed acts of necrophilia and cannibalism on Paterson’s body.

Sentenced to life in jail, he began a letter-writing campaign to the press in a bid for attention. “His motivation was notoriety,” says Karen Westcott, a journalist for the Northern Echo. “His trump card is that he’s never said where her remains are and I think he won’t do that because he knows that it’s keeping him in the press.”

In the wake of the murder, Alan Taylor became obsessed with finding the rest of Paterson’s body and took to digging holes all over Darlington. In 2000, he revealed his anguish when he was filmed standing over his lover’s grave. “The nightmares I have... in a way, I’m like a murderer myself because I have to think how, maybe, he’s done it,” Taylor said.

Taylor turned to drink and in 2006 murdered his friend John Morrison by strangling him with a belt. He claimed that he wanted to be sent to the same prison as Harker in order to exact revenge on his girlfriend’s killer. Three months after being sent away for life, Taylor committed suicide. Now the lead officer in Paterson’s case plans to visit Harker in prison in a final effort to learn what became of his victim’s remains and bring closure to this tragic story.



David James Harker


Julie Paterson



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