'Self-centred' ex-pole dancer jailed after death of postman in suicide pact
A former pole-dancer has been jailed for four years after entering a suicide pact with a postman and leaving him to die alone.
Natasha Gordon backed out of the agreement with 31-year-old Matthew Birkinshaw on December 17 2015, by getting out of his car before he killed himself.
The ex-model was described during her trial as an "enthusiastic advocate" of suicide - attempting to arrange other pacts within hours of Mr Birkinshaw's death.
But after backing out and leaving him to die, Gordon did not tell police officers who were just 450 metres away.
Royal Mail employee Mr Birkinshaw, of Walsall, West Midlands, was pronounced dead at 7.24pm, just after he was found in his Fiat Punto at Rutland Water in Oakham, Rutland.
Gordon, of Paston Ridings, Peterborough, denied having any impact on Mr Birkinshaw's decision to take his own life, but was convicted by a jury at Leicester Crown Court in December.
Wearing a leopard-print coat and a white jumper, she showed no emotion as the judge ruled she could only pass an immediate custodial sentence.
Addressing the 44-year-old, who was flanked by a security officer in the dock on Friday, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: "This was a serious case because Matthew Birkinshaw actually took his own life after your encouragement.
"I have found you misled him into believing you were genuine and firmly intent on committing suicide with him, although you were not fully committed.
"You were gripped by your self-centredness."
The judge accepted Mr Birkinshaw would have more than likely taken his own life but said Gordon had influenced his decision to commit suicide and the method he chose.
Mr Birkinshaw's mother, Margaret Birkinshaw, fought back tears as she read out her victim impact statement in court.
She said: "It's impossible to put into words the effect the loss of Matthew has had on our family.
"He was everything to us and has left a space no-one else can ever fill."
Mrs Birkinshaw's voice cracked as she said: "Matt was 31 when he died just one week before Christmas.
"His last words to me were 'Give me a hug mum, I'll be back tomorrow.'
"I've asked myself a million times over the past two years 'Why didn't I ring him? Would it have made a difference if he'd heard my voice?'"
She added: "He was a man full of fun, laughter, love and intelligence, with everything to live for but with a sensitivity which sometimes made life difficult for him, and the misfortune to meet with someone who wanted to do him harm when he most needed kindness and support."
Summarising the case before sentence, prosecutor Timothy Cray said: "She had a long-held desire to commit suicide and only she will know if she intended to go ahead with it.
"Fundamentally, she decided not to commit suicide in the end."
Ali Naseem Bajwa QC, defending, said: "The Crown conceded that the defendant Miss Gordon was suicidal."
Mr Bajwa asked the judge to find her demeanour "sincere" when she got "as upset as she did" when talking about Mr Birkinshaw's death.