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Mother speaks out as killer is jailed for 12 years for manslaughter of her daughter, 16

James Morton, jailed for 12 years for the manslaughter of Marston teenager Hannah Pearson.
James Morton, jailed for 12 years for the manslaughter of Marston teenager Hannah Pearson.

A man who became ‘obsessed’ with strangling women during sex after he saw it on a porn DVD was jailed for 12 years today (Thursday) for choking his pal’s teenage girlfriend to death.

Pervert James Morton, 24, plied ‘beautiful’ Hannah Pearson with alcohol at his home just hours after they met before ‘guiding’ the 16-year-old to his bedroom, where he throttled her.

Hannah Pearson.
Hannah Pearson.

After Hannah stopped breathing Morton dialled 999, and the naked and unconscious schoolgirl was rushed to hospital. But she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Morton admitted putting Hannah, who had drunk so much she was struggling to stand, in bed and climbing in alongside her – then squeezing her throat until she was dead.

He was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter following a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement she read to the court herself, Hannah’s mother, Dawn Pearson, said: “Hannah was the most beautiful daughter you could ask for.

“The loss and pain we are all experiencing is indescribable. To have the police knock at your front door and tell you your daughter has been killed is a parent’s worst nightmare. This is the nightmare we are living with every single day.

“The hurt and pain we feel is indescribable, the physical pain we feel in our hearts is suffocating. We so desperately want to see her walk through our front door again, see her beautiful smile, but we can’t. She has been taken away from us in such a cruel and vicious act. As a family, we have a constant ache in our hearts.”

She added: “I can’t even bring myself to drink Diet Coke or Pepsi. That was Hannah’s drink. She loved it.

“My husband Peter has lost his baby girl. He’ll never be able to walk her down the aisle, or see her have children, our grandchildren.

“He keeps everything inside. He’s only managed to go to Hannah’s grave twice so far. It’s just too hard for him to deal with, and too painful.

“Our son David has had his little sister taken away from him. He still can’t face up to what has happened and is struggling to deal with his emotions.

“Our daughter Kathryn has lost her sister, aunt to her baby daughter. This was her daughter’s first Christmas. A time of life which we were looking forward to, was meant to be so special and memorable. Five months after Hannah was killed, it was Christmas. It was not the special, memorable time that we wanted for Hannah’s daughter.

“On top of the huge emotional effect of losing our daughter, we have also suffered financially. We have had to pay for funeral flowers and a wake. This is something we thought we would never have to do for one of our children.

“A parent should not have to bury their own child, a child who has not the chance to live a life of their own.”

Judge Mrs Justice Carr sentenced Morton to 12 years in prison, of which he will have to serve at least half.

She told him: “You guided her up to your bed, where you joined her. Whilst in bed, you initiated auto-erotic sexual activity by placing first one hand, and then two hands to her neck. You enjoyed the domination, something you had seen on a porn DVD previously, and had also tried with at least one previous girlfriend.

“I am sure, as the jury was, that Hannah did not valid and informed consent to this escalated activity in the knowledge that it carried the risk of some bodily injury.

“She had never been involved in such activity before, was very intoxicated and, if not totally unconscious, then certainly confused and not thinking straight. She was in no position to object, trapped underneath you whilst you strangled her.

“Only you know exactly what went on in your bedroom that night. The jury was not sure that you intended to kill Hannah or cause her really serious harm.

“But on any view you chose to engage in sexual activity which you knew to be dangerous with a very young drunk girl whom you had only met that afternoon and who, as you realised at the time, had never engaged in this type of activity before.

“Hannah was to your knowledge very drunk. She was also very young and vulnerable, and alone in a strange house. Indeed, you accepted in your evidence that you felt responsible for her. Jed, her boyfriend, trusted you to take care of her. She trusted you to take care of her.

“The pain suffered by her family is indescribable. They live a nightmare every day. Hannah was taken away from them in a shocking, terrifying event that should not have happened.”

Speaking after Morton was sentenced, Detective Inspector Justine Wilson, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Hannah had put her trust into this man, he took advantage of that trust. He showed no remorse whatsoever. I can only describe him as a cold and calculated individual.

“Mercifully, this type of crime is extremely rare, but that is no comfort to Hannah’s friends and family. They deserve huge credit for the bravery, patience and dignity they have shown throughout.

“I’d also like to thank the jury for their diligence throughout the trial.”

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