Flatmate who admitted killing Ferry woman jailed for 17 years

Undated handout photo issued by Police Scotland of Katy Rourke. Photo credit: Police Scotland/PA Wire
Undated handout photo issued by Police Scotland of Katy Rourke. Photo credit: Police Scotland/PA Wire

A man who murdered his flatmate after she refused to have sex has told a court how he was a “pressure cooker” who “cracked” and “deserves” his life sentence.

Gary Stevenson (27) made the admissions in a written statement which was read out in court moments before judge Lady Rae gave him a minimum term of 17 years.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Stevenson stabbed fashion buyer Katy Rourke (25), who was originally from Broughty Ferry, after she rebuffed his advances at their flat in Govan, Glasgow, in December 2015.

Stevenson confessed to police that he killed Katy, telling them after he arrested her: “I stabbed her. I think it was three times.

“If it wasn’t her, it would be someone else. I just want to tell the truth for the sake of the family.”

But on Monday, Stevenson, who pleaded guilty to murder at the High Court in Glasgow last month, had his legal team read out a statement which he had written whilst on remand.

Donald Findlay QC told Lady Rae that Stevenson thought Katy was an “intelligent, good person” who did not “deserve to die.”

Reading out the statement in court, Mr Findlay said: “She did nothing wrong. She was a good intelligent person. She had her whole life in front of her and I robbed her of that.

“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that I have caused. I cannot begin to imagine it.

“If I could go back and change things I would. If I could go back and give my own life I would.

“I was like a pressure cooker and the pressure had been building up for a long, long time.

“The wheels were coming off in so many areas of my personal life. I had been drinking in a stupid attempt to self medicate instead of seeking help.

“Katy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when I finally cracked. It was not her fault and I regret it every day.

“I’m not going to make any excuses. I have lost everything. I deserve every second of the long dark road which rises in front of me.

“I’m filled with regret every day. I wish I could wake up and know everything is okay. But it’s not a dream.

“It’s a wide awake living nightmare.”

However, Lady Rae said she had no other option but to send Stevenson to prison. She said: “I note too with some concern that the social worker detected no victim empathy or remorse on your part.

“You should reflect on the fact that you have needlessly and brutally destroyed a young life and from my reading of the victim impact statements from Miss Rourke’s parents and her sisters, you have devastated her family.

“You killed Miss Rourke because she rejected your sexual advances and because she refused to engage in sexual intercourse.

“You were simply on this occasion not prepared to take ‘no’ for an answer and you deliberately killed her.”

Stevenson, originally of Govan, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to murdering Katy at their flat in Minto Steet, also Govan, last month at the city’s high court.

Sentence had been deferred until Monday for the court to obtain reports about Stevenson’s character.

On that occasion, the court heard that Katy rented a room in the Govan flat where hospital laboratory assistant Stevenson was the tenant. She had found the flatshare on Gumtree.

Her friends last heard from her when she texted at 1.20am on December 29, 2015. They became worried when she failed to turn up for work in the morning.

All day they tried to contact her and got no response to phoning and leaving messages on the Whatsapp messaging system for Katy, who worked for Quiz Clothing in Glasgow.

Her manager at work was so concerned that she phoned Katy’s mother who made an appeal on Facebook for her to get in touch.

Sometime after 4pm Katy’s friends Claire Surgeoner, Emma Collumb and Isla Porter went to the flat to see if they could find her and saw her car parked outside.

Despite repeated knocking there was no answer.

Advocate depute Bruce Erroch, prosecuting, said: “They went out into the back garden and noticed one of the rear windows of the flat was open and a light was on.

“They thought if a light was on Katy must be in and phoned the police.”

As the three friends waited they saw two uniformed officers on patrol and explained the situation to them.

The police put a truncheon through letterbox and noticed that something was blocking the front door.

Other police officers arrived and a decision was made to force the front door.

They found the doorway blocked by various pieces of furniture.

A search was made of the flat and Katy’s naked body was found in her bedroom. She was dead and has two slash wounds and a smaller puncture wound to her lower back.

A large kitchen-type knife was lying on the bed beside the former cruise ship worker’s body.

When police spoke to neighbours one of them mentioned hearing a noise at 5am which she described a “banging like scaffolding”.

Stevenson when questioned by police he said that he and Katy had been drinking and he claimed one thing led to another and they had sex.

He told police that later when he woke Katy up and asked her to have sex with him again she refused because she had work in the morning.

Stevenson then said he lost control and began hitting her as she fought back. He punched her repeatedly in the face and put his hands round her throat.

As terrified Katy screamed for help, Stevenson went into the kitchen, got a knife and stabbed her three times.

The fatal wound was to the sac round Katy’s heart and pathologists say that after it was inflicted she would have suffered massive blood loss, unconsciousness and death.

After barricading the front door with furniture Stevenson left the flat with Katy’s dead body inside by shimmying down a drainpipe.

He bought a knife, alcohol and painkillers and then went to North Berwick and at 3.03am phoned an ambulance saying he had slashed his wrists.

He was taken at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh for cuts and scratches to both wrists.

While he was there police received information he was suspected of murdering Katy.

While being driven to Glasgow he asked police what would happen when he arrived there and said, unprompted: “If it wasn’t her, it would be someone else. I just want to tell the truth for the sake of the family.”

He also confessed to police, saying: “I need to give Katy’s family a chance to seek justice. I need to own up to it.”

Mr Erroch asked the judge to consider placing Stevenson on the Sex Offenders Register. On Monday, Lady Rae agreed that there was enough evidence to place Stevenson on the register.

The judge said she placed Stevenson on the register because there “was a significant sexual element” in the events leading up to the murder.

Earlier, Mr Findlay told the court that his client had suffered from depression in the weeks leading up to the murder.

The advocate also said that Stevenson had been drinking heavily.

He added: “Alcohol and depression are cruel companions. He was hanging onto his job by a very thin thread and he was brooding on life.”

He said that Stevenson was unable to cope with repeated “rebuffs” in his personal life. When Katy refused to have sex with him, Stevenson snapped and stabbed her.

Lady Rae added: “Gary Stevenson you have pleaded guilty to the murder of a young woman by repeatedly stabbing her.

“The reason you have given for having done so is her rejection of her sexual advances. You did not accept that decision and as a result you started to assault her.

“When she tried to fight back and shout for help you struck her to quieten her, then took the time to go into the kitchen to retrieve a knife which you used to kill her.

“Although you have admitted your crime from the outset and you have pleaded guilty at an early stage thus avoiding a trial, it is the view of the social worker who carried out the criminal justice social work report for this court that you do not truly accept responsibility in the sense that you blame your alcohol intake then fact that deceased rejected you.

“Neither of these reasons is an excuse for, nor are those reasons mitigatory of your actions.”