A soldier who stabbed his girlfriend to death in Bournemouth while their children slept upstairs has been jailed for life.
Jay Nava, aged 27, of the Royal Artillery’s 29 Commando Regiment in Plymouth was sentenced on 6 April, at Winchester Crown Court after being found guilty of the murder of Natasha Wake. He was told he would have to serve a minimum of 21 years in prison before he would be considered for parole.
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 Bournemouth 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 straightforward and at times Nava 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.
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.
After officers found Natasha’s body, they launched a large-scale search to find him. Natasha’s Peugeot car was located in a car park 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. 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.
At today’s hearing (6 April), Victim Impact Statements from Natasha’s father John Wake and her mother Shelley Powell were read to the court.
Mr Wake said Natasha’s death has “changed my life and my family’s life forever.”
He said: “Natasha was beautiful both inside and out.
“Natasha’s life was on the right track. She had a job she enjoyed, she had a lovely home and she had her children living with her. Being a single mum of two was difficult but she never complained. But her life was taken from her and in doing so her children will never know her.
“I cried when my little girl was put in my arms in the delivery room at Saint Peters hospital. My love was instant, my hopes and dreams for her endless. Yes, she grew up and had her own children but she never stopped being my little girl. The next time I cried with Tash was carrying her coffin, to the sound of friends and family also crying, to her final resting place.
“Natasha’s passing is something that will affect everyone who knew her and there will always be a sadness in my life that will remain forever at the loss of my little girl.”
Mrs Powell’s statement read: “Natasha was a huge part of our lives and our family has been shattered by a moment of senseless rage.
“We are haunted by Natasha’s last few moments. I knew her fears – that she would not live to see her children grow up. The hideous thought that she may have seen her end and known this fear to be coming true is very hard for us to come to terms with.
“My relationship with Natasha – mother, daughter, best friend is one that will never be replaced. Her loss will always leave a huge void. I will always miss her.”
Sentencing Nava, Judge Jane Miller QC told Nava: “You killed her in a frenzied and violent outburst.”
She said their relationship was of great concern to Natasha’s family who had seen her go from “infatuated to scared” of Nava because of his “controlling and jealous behaviour.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Jay Nava is now serving a life sentence after he subjected Natasha to a horrific and brutal attack.
“Throughout their relationship he was both physically and mentally abusive to Natasha and his violent temper ended in tragedy.
“He has sadly left two young children without their mother and Natasha’s family and friends totally devastated by their loss.
“I would like to remind anyone suffering from any form of domestic abuse that there is a huge amount of support out there – both from Dorset Police and other agencies. We will not tolerate any form of domestic abuse and perpetrators will be investigated and dealt with robustly by the courts.
“Please do not suffer in silence. You are not alone; there is support out there for you even if you choose not to inform the police.”
In a statement, Natasha’s family said: “We would like to thank everyone in the police team for the work they have put in to get this outcome. A special thanks to our family liaison officer for the support he has given us throughout this process.
“Nothing will bring Natasha back but we are satisfied with the decision of the jury.
“We would urge anyone who is being subjected to abuse in their relationship not to keep it a secret but to speak out and get help. There is support out there for you.
“There will be so many families out there who may see the warning signs of abuse. You don’t think something as tragic as this will happen to you: but it can.”
Useful information and contact numbers:
Members of the public can apply to the police under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law) for a disclosure on a suspected offender’s past history, known as the ‘right to ask’. Requests for applications can be made by visiting dorset.police.uk/do-it-online or by calling 101. The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender. Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim.
Dorset Police: Report online by visiting: dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, or call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
National support for victims:
National DV Helpline (24 hour) 0808 2000247
National Men’s Advice Line (for male victims) 0808 8010327
National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300
Local support for victims:
Bournemouth Outreach Service 01202 209456
Bournemouth 24 hour helpline 01202 547755
Poole Outreach Service and 24 hour helpline 01202 748488
You First (Dorset County Outreach) 0800 0325204
Childline (for children) 0800 1111
Respect Helpline (for perpetrators): 0845 122 8609