Peterborough woman found guilty of encouraging postman to take his own life before leaving him alone to die

Court News
Court News

A Peterborough woman who encouraged a stranger she met on the internet to take his own life has been convicted of encouraging his suicide today, Friday December 1.

A trial at Leicester Crown Court heard how Natasha Gordon, 44, swapped messages with 31-year-old Matthew Birkinshaw in December 2015 after he posted a message online seeking a suicide partner.

In the messages Gordon told Matthew she also wanted to take her own life. Gordon suggested the method and the location for this to happen.

The court heard how Matthew travelled from his home in the West Midlands to Gordon’s home in Peterborough, before the pair drove together to Rutland Water .

She left Matthew alone in the car when it was filled with carbon monoxide and then delayed informing the authorities of what had happened until it was too late.

Michael Gregory, from the CPS, said: “The evidence put forward by the prosecution demonstrated how Natasha Gordon broke the law by encouraging the suicide of Matthew Birkinshaw.

“Through analysing her online activity the CPS was able to demonstrate how Gordon took advantage of Matthew’s vulnerability to encourage his final actions, rather than seeking help. The prosecution also established that she had previously contacted other people to encourage their suicides.

“Our thoughts are with Matthew’s family at this difficult time.”

Prosecutor Timothy Cray told the jury of five men and seven women the defendant thought about, talked about, and was a firm believer in suicide, and had encouraged six others to do so in the past.

Gordon had also allegedly told her partner she was going to kill herself, leading him to phone the police.

Mr Cray said: "Matthew was just 31 years old when he took his own life, very shortly after he met the defendant in December 2015. "Within hours of having met Matthew via the internet, the defendant was telling him that she was prepared to commit suicide with him.

"She did not make it clear to police what she was doing until it was too late."

The court heard how the pair exchanged messages and phone calls before the incident.

In a message to Mr Birkinshaw, Gordon said: "I really can't wait to go tomorrow, I hope you do not change your mind."

Mr Cray continued: "This case is a million miles from any sort of mercy killing or act of comfort to a loved one in their last hours."

He told the court Gordon was "quite prepared to say to people she hardly knew" that taking their own life "was the right thing to do".

Mr Cray described Mr Birkinshaw as someone who "had a lot to live for" despite having felt "disconnected with the world" for a long time.

Natasha Gordon was convicted of one count of encouraging suicide. Gordon will be sentenced at a later date.