Slaughtered By Her StepBrother: The Becky Watts Murder
On the evening of 9 November 2017, viewers watched as Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid stepped inside the untouched bedroom of teenage murder victim Becky Watts, who was senselessly killed by her step-brother Nathan Matthews and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare in February 2015. Speaking to the investigators from Avon and Somerset Police and the victim’s family, Reid explored the case as part of ITV’s latest true crime documentary ‘The Murder Of Becky Watts: Police Tapes’. The seasoned journalist was allowed “unprecedented access to never before seen footage recorded by the police at the heart of the investigation, revealing for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the case and the strategy and skill the detectives used to catch Becky’s killers.” For some, this was the first time they had spoken openly about the disturbing case.
Harrowing footage showed the moments police realised that Matthews and Hoare’s perfectly corroborating stories about the last time they saw the missing 16-year-old were a farce. Matthews was convicted of his stepsister’s murder and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 33-years, while his accomplice Hoare was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years behind bars. In light of of last night’s astonishing and tear-jerking documentary, Real Crime Daily looks back on the case that rocked a nation.
On the morning of Thursday, February 19th 2015, 16-year-old Bristol teenager Becky Watts seemed to suddenly vanish from the face of the earth. Her disappearance made no sense at all. She had spent the previous night enjoying a sleepover at the house of a friend, playing video games, watching films, eating fish and chips and sending loving text messages to her boyfriend of four months, Luke Oberhansli. Returning to the home at 18 Crown Hill that she shared with her father and stepmum, she spent the rest of the morning playing music and had planned to take a shower before meeting up with Luke, who had spent the morning at the dentist, in the afternoon. At 11.03, Luke sent a text to say he was back home and Becky replied immediately, writing “GOODIE XXXXX”, followed by a heart and an emoji blowing a kiss, making no secret of her delight. It was the last time Luke or anyone else would hear from her.
Reported missing by her father the following day, the case sparked a massive manhunt with hundreds of police officers from across the Avon and Somerset region brought in to assist. Hundreds more volunteers from the tight-knit St George area of Bristol, where Becky and her family lived, also turned out to lend a hand. Marches were organised, bringing parts of the city centre to an absolute standstill. Both of the city’s football teams held a minute’s silence prior to their matches that week and thousands of leaflets were given, begging for information about her whereabouts. Her father, Darren Goldsworthy, gave an emotional interview to the local television station, appealing to whoever had taken his daughter to bring her back unharmed. It was all for nothing. Becky had been brutally murdered by her stepbrother, Nathan Matthews, along with his girlfriend Shauna Hoare, within an hour of sending the last text to her boyfriend.
While all those around them desperately tried to find the teenager, Matthews and Hoare put into action a well-organised plan to get rid of the body and destroy all the possible evidence that they had been involved in the case. They lied and misled the police at every opportunity but by the time Becky’s dismembered body parts had been found at the home of one of Nathan’s friends, the police were starting to close in on them. Matthews attempted to take the blame for all aspects of the crime, insisting that Shauna had no knowledge of his actions, but as the police continued to build a case against the pair, it became increasingly obvious that this scenario was simply not true. Following a trial that concluded in November 2015, Nathan Matthews was found guilty of the murder of Becky Watts and Shauna Hoare was found guilty of her manslaughter, along with offences connected to assisting Matthews with disposing of the body.
With both Matthews and Hoare seemingly able to become master manipulators, they remain the only two people who know exactly how and why Becky died. Although both have now been convicted of their involvement in the case, there remain many unanswered questions. Darren Galsworthy, Becky’s father, met factory worker Anjie Goldsmith, Nathan’s mother, when Becky was three years old and Nathan was 12. Despite the difference in their ages the siblings – who included Becky’s older brother Darren, seemed to get on well and Nathan would regularly take Becky out to the local adventure playgrounds on his own and supervise her while she played. According to her father, Becky was a shy girl and a late speaker. Such was the bond between the two that her first clear words were “Nathan”.
To all intents and purposes the pair acted like brother and sister but the reality was that their lives were very different. Becky lived in the home that her father shared with Angie while Nathan lived nearby in the home of his grandmother who had been raising him up since the age of seven. He would spend every spare minute of his weekends at his mother’s house and the four soon became a close family unit. As the years went by, resentment began so seep in. Nathan had never had a relationship with his own father – there is a blank space where the name should appear on his birth certificate – and had always lived with his grandmother. Seeing his stepsister and brother growing up in the kind of secure family environment that had always been denied to him began to eat away.
It didn’t help that, early in life, he had been diagnosed with the rheumatic condition, fibromyalgia, which regularly left him in great pain. Depressed over his condition and routinely feeling “inadequate and useless” as a result of it, Matthews took to spending more and more time along in his bedroom at his grandmother’s house, even eating all of his meals there.
He left school with few qualifications and enrolled in a local college with the intention of becoming an electrician, but dropped out of the course after a couple of months and ended up working as a delivery driver for various fast food companies. Despite his condition, he managed to join the army cadets at the age of 13 and continued his fascination with the military buy signing up for the Territorial Army once he left school, remaining a member until his early twenties. During his time there, he learned a number of survival and organisational skills, along with lessons in the art of decontamination, all of which he would eventually put to good use in cleaning up the aftermath of the murder of Becky Watts.
Matthews’ life was transformed when, in his early twenties he entered a relationship with Shauna Hoare. She was just fourteen or fifteen years old at the time and, thanks to her own damaged background, was the perfect match for Matthews as he was very easily able to dominate every aspect of her life from very early on. Like Matthews, Hoare had grown up in a less than ideal family environment. One of seven children that her mother, Lisa Donovan, had with a range of different men, Hoare was taken into care early on and grew up in a series of foster homes before moving back in with her mother at the age of 13. Donovan was not at all impressed with Matthews, considered him far too old for her daughter and would later describe him as ‘flirty, domineering and sexually orientated’. Hoare, however, was totally smitten and continued to see Matthews against the wishes of her mother.
Unable to continue living at home, Hoare initially moved into a hostel for young people owned and operated by Bristol City Council, virtually living with Matthews there even though it was against all the rules for overnight guests to be allowed in the property. Following a massive row between Matthews and Donovan, Shauna cut all contact with her mother. Her relationship with Matthews continued to develop and the pair subsequently moved into a modern housing association terraced house in the Barton Hill area of Bristol. Their new home was just a few miles from where Matthews’ mother, stepfather and Becky lived in St George. Although tensions still existed between the step-siblings and life within the blended family unit was never easy, everyone was always willing to make an effort for the right occasion. When Anjie and David Galsworthy decided to get married, Nathan was asked to be best man while both Shauna and Becky were made bridesmaids.
Photographs taken at the event show a sea of smiling faces but in reality, Matthews was becoming increasingly frustrated with the way his stepsister was behaving. With Anjie increasingly suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis, Mathews believed the fact that Becky was sometimes untidy was an accident waiting to happen. “The main problem was Becky would leave things on the stairs, in the kitchen, in places where my mum would walk,’ Matthews later explained. “Obviously step on a bit of clothing, you slip straight away. That was the main problem with her leaving trip hazards around. We said “Can you tidy it up and move them?” And she just wouldn’t listen.”
Matthews soon devised what he believed to be the perfect plan to make sure that Becky got the message once and
for all: he would kidnap her and make her believe she was about to die. “I came up with the idea to scare her. Like to try and basically make her more appreciative of life, like more appreciative of people, like she would be grateful that she had not been harmed.” Matthews had known for weeks in advance that she would be out of the house at a hospital appointment on the morning of February 19th. He chose this as the day he would give Becky the fright ofher life by kidnapping. “It seems extreme but there had to be a shock and a scare to get through to her,” he later explained.
Whenever he visited the house, he usually parked on the road. This time he reversed his dark blue Vauxhall Zafira onto the driveway to make it easier to bundle his kidnap victim into the vehicle. As it turned out, nothing went to plan. Wearing a mask, speaking with a deeper voice and armed with a couple of stun guns, tape, a suitcase and some handcuffs, Matthews let himself into the house and knocked on Becky’s door. “The door was opened and straight away I used the Sellotape around Becky’s mouth,” he said during his court case.
“She turned around and I think I said something along the lines of ‘As long as you do as you’re told you are going to be fine’. He made her turn around the placed the handcuffs on her but once he tried to put her in the suitcase, she began to resist him violently. “She started like wriggling and resisting. I tried getting her back into the suitcase and saying ‘Don’t struggle, you will be released unharmed’, and she was still refusing to get into the suitcase.” He punched her in the face, splitting her lip, then tried to render her unconscious by strangling her to restrict the flow of blood to her brain. At some point during the struggle, Becky managed to pull the mask from her step brother’s face and he started to panic, squeezing harder. “After that she stopped… stopped kicking. That’s when I moved her head and started moving her legs and pushing her into the suitcase. I remember I couldn’t hear any breathing, that’s when ‘something’s not right’ and I checked her for a pulse. There wasn’t a pulse there… she didn’t have a pulse. Obviously then I shut the suitcase.”
Power saw killer
Desperate to prevent the police from gaining access to the home where Becky’s body had been cut into pieces before a full clean-up could be completed, Hoare turned to the one person who was so desperate for contact that she would not ask any question – her mother.
Despite not having had any contact for four years, Lisa Donovan was delighted when Shauna got in touch and asked to visit he with Matthews. More visits followed in the subsequent days. When the police made contact and asked to visit the house at Cotton Mill Lane, Matthews and Hoarse said they had made plans to go to dinner with Donovan and her husband, that they would be staying with them over night and that the flat would not be ready for inspection until the following morning.
When the police finally gained access to the house, it was clear that Nathan Matthews had put his army training to good use. His diligence had paid off – not a single trace of Becky Watts was found in the bathroom. However, Nathan had been a little too thorough. No trace of anyone one – even Matthews himself and Hoare – was found in the bathroom. The total lack of evidence from the bathroom. turned out to be compelling evidence that something untoward had occurred there.
The Truth Comes Out
Ultimately, both Matthews and Hoare were telling only part of the truth about the events leading up to the murder of Becky Watts. Although Matthews may well have been irritated by his stepsister and the way she treated his mother, police believe his real motivation behind carrying out the attack was a sexual one and that both he and Hoare planned to fully participate in. Shortly before the murder Matthews is believed to have watched a 17-minute-long pornographic film titled “Virgin teen gets raped in own house”. It was one of 21 pornographic movies, along with 236 still images, found on the laptop he shared with Hoare.
Matthews had first become interested in pornography as a young teenager and his interest had gradually moved from soft core magazines to hardcore online images and videos which he watched virtually every day. In particular, Matthews was obsessed with petite young girls. At little more than five feet tall his stepsister Becky Watts fit the profile of the type of women he often fantasised about and he soon became totally fixated with her. His fascination with his step-sibling seems to have begun at an early age. Although it was never put to the jury, police had discovered that when she was just eight years old, Becky had told her parents that Matthews had been fondling her leg through her clothing. In the weeks and months leading up to the murder, Matthews behaviour grew increasingly bizarre and his relationship with Shauna became increasingly strained and, due to increasingly sexual frustration, he began watching pornography several times each day.
Matthews convinced Hoare – who had experimented sexually with girls during her teens – to arrange a threesome with a friend of hers. Matthews also visited prostitutes to deal with what he claimed were permanent feelings of sexual frustration, but the meetings only ended in further embarrassment. “I couldn’t get aroused because I didn’t feel like they – they only wanted the money not me, so it didn’t happen. They had the money and left.” Phones used by the Matthews and Hoare showed they had regularly searched for the term ‘teen’ and bookmarked sites related to pornography and escort services. Detectives who investigated the case believe the bond that kept them together – and led to them to kill – was sex. A few months before Becky’s murder, the pair had exchanged messages on social media accounts about kidnapping a teenage girl for sex.
During one exchange, Matthews wrote: ”Fuck you bring me back two pretty schoolgirls then 🙂 … ” Hoare replied: ”lol yeh I’ll just kidnap them from school … ” Later that day, she added: ”Just went into Costcutter and saw a pretty petite girl. Almost knocked her out to bring home lol xoxo” Matthews replied: ”Don’t you ‘almost’ me … Now DO IT bitch!! xxxxx” Hoare then wrote: ”lmfao yeah I’ll just go back in time to when I saw her then time travel her to our attic lol xoxo” Increasingly their lives revolved around the bedroom in their home and the rest of the property descended into squalor. They kept a toaster and a kettle right beside the bed so they had less far to go when they wanted to eat and drink. By the time of Becky’s murder, Shauna had become pregnant with twins, but the pregnancy was ended before the case came to trial.
The Tale Of The Trial
After her arrest, Hoare continued to deny all knowledge and carefully positioned herself as the submissive victim of an abusive and mentally-unstable partner. She would later claim to have been too scared to leave Matthews and dreamed of the day he would end the relationship. “I basically spent almost six years joined to him. One way or another it was like I was going to be stuck like this forever. Never be able to go out, do anything. I had a dream that one day he would meet someone else, fall in love and leave.” During the course of the trial, Hoare’s claim of being totally innocent of any involvement in Becky’s death became increasingly ludicrous. In the words of the prosecution barrister, the killing was ‘a case of two people very close, very together, acting together.
Prosecutor William Mousley QC said: “You can be sure this was no accident… this was not something that just went wrong. ‘You can be sure that Nathan Matthews is guilty of murder and [Hoare’s] proximity, her involvement and her behaviour and the sheer implausibility of her version of events on the evidence which is available and the ridiculous concept that she was in blissful ignorance of what was happening at the time.’ Following their arrests both Matthews and Hoare refused to reveal much of what had happened and would not admit to anyone else – especially Hoare – having been involved. However, virtually all their key movements in the immediate aftermath of the murder and during the days that followed had been captured on CCTV. It was this compelling footage that helped build a case – and helped convince a jury of their guilt.
This feature was taken from issue 7 of Real Crime. Subscribe today for more gripping true crime stories.