Soldier convicted of stabbing his girlfriend to death in Bournemouth

05 April 2017
A soldier has been convicted of stabbing his girlfriend to death in Bournemouth while their children slept upstairs.

Jay Nava, 27 and of the Royal Artillery’s 29 Commando Regiment in Plymouth, Devon, was found guilty today, Wednesday 5 April 2017, of the murder of Natasha Wake following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

He will be sentenced at the same court tomorrow, Thursday 6 April 2017.

The court heard that just before 2.20pm on Sunday 2 October 2016 a 999 call was made by a relative to Dorset Police reporting that Nava had killed his girlfriend.

Officers were directed to an address in Harley Gardens in the town and inside they found Natasha’s body hidden in a cupboard under the stairs. The 26-year-old was lying in the foetal position fully clothed and she had been covered with a duvet.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Natasha had sustained 11 stab wounds to her chest, injuries to her face and defensive wounds to her hands.

The court heard that Natasha had been in a relationship with Nava for around two years and they had a son together and a child each from previous relationships. Their relationship was not straight forward and at times Nava - who served in the Army and was based at Plymouth - was physically abusive toward Natasha. 

The jury was told that it is believed Natasha died on the evening of Saturday 1 October 2016 after Nava attacked her as the children slept upstairs.

One young girl heard a "scream" and went downstairs for a drink. The girl later told officers she had seen Nava with a knife in his trousers and Natasha lying on the floor of the lounge with a blanket over her.

The following morning Nava took the three children to his grandparents' home in Bournemouth and left in Natasha’s Peugeot 206. He called his mother in Australia and told her he had killed Natasha. His mother's partner contacted family in England and asked them to raise the alarm.

The court heard that before she died Natasha had discovered Nava had been investigated by Devon and Cornwall Police for an allegation of a sexual assault which was made against him in May 2016. The jury heard the discovery may have acted as the catalyst for a bitter and acrimonious argument between Nava and Natasha on the evening she died.

Following the discovery of Natasha's body, officers launched a large-scale search to find him. They discovered Natasha’s Peugeot car parked at Hengistbury Head and officers, assisted by the NPAS helicopter, found Nava in woodland.

As they approached Nava made an attempt to take his own life, the court was told. Officers successfully resuscitated him and he was taken to Poole Hospital by ambulance. A large kitchen knife was found with Nava while he was being resuscitated.

At 4.40pm that day he was arrested on suspicion of Natasha’s murder. During police interviews he replied “no comment” to all questions.

During subsequent searches of Natasha's home address, officers found a handwritten note that had been left on the arm of the sofa in the living room. It read: “The worst thing I have ever seen was the death of my lover and my child’s mother. I wish I had a gun to shoot myself. If it did it would have been done by now. But I needed to get all the kids away as they shouldn’t see this. I’m very weak and scared. I have been for a long time now. I’ll see you again Tasha in the next world. X”

Another note read: "Tasha died at 11. I was ashamed to take my own life. She was the only person that I loved and loved me."

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Jay Nava lost control of his temper and subjected Natasha to a brutal and sustained attack. His violent actions that day have very sadly left two young children without their mother.

“I hope the verdict of the jury today will bring some small comfort to her family that Nava will now be facing a lengthy prison sentence.

"Natasha's family and friends have been very supportive of our investigation and I would like to thank them for that support and the incredible dignity they have shown throughout the trial which has been very traumatic for them to listen to."
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