The family of a university student stabbed 75 times by her obsessive ex-boyfriend said they are a facing ‘a lifetime of pain, anguish and loss’ as he was jailed for at least 26 years today.
Joshua Stimpson had posted menacing messages about Molly McLaren on Facebook before he attacked her at a retail park in Chatham, Kent last summer.
Following today’s verdict, her family read a statement outside the court: ‘The verdict has brought us a small measure of comfort, but it seems that nothing will take away the pain or allow us to come to terms with our Molly being taken from us. We are serving a lifetime of pain, anguish and loss.’
Miss McLaren had twice contacted police about her ex’s behaviour, the second time less than a week before her death, but he ignored officers’ warnings to leave her alone.
They were cries of ‘Yes’ from Miss McLaren’s relatives as a jury rejected his claims of diminished responsibility due to bipolar disorder and convicted him of murder today.
Judge Adele Williams branded Stimpson’s crime ‘cruel, calculated and cowardly’ as she jailed him for life and ordered he serve at least 26 years behind bars.
As 26-year-old Stimpson was led to the cells, someone in the public gallery shouted: ‘Go on, you b******.’
Molly’s parents Doug and Joanne have sat through the often disturbing trial with their family and Mrs McLaren was in court to hear the verdict today.
Stimpson and Miss McLaren had been in a seven-month relationship since late 2016 after meeting on Tinder, but she ended it about two weeks before the fatal attack.
After they split, he began to post things about her online and follow her on nights out.
McLaren confronted Stimpson after he followed her to the gym on June 29 last year and tried to work out in the same room. She left the fitness club when her mother urged her to come home.
But Stimpson followed her into the car park and repeatedly stabbed her as she tried to drive off. CCTV showed him being arrested, covered in blood, after a passer-by bravely tried to stop the attack.
Sentencing Stimpson, Judge Williams told him: ‘This was a cruel, calculated and cowardly act. This was an act of wickedness. You took away Molly’s life quite deliberately in the most vicious fashion.
‘You were determined to punish her for ending the relationship with you. You were seeking revenge.
‘She was 23-years-old, beautiful and intelligent. Her family’s grief and anguish is raw and apparent for everyone to see.
‘You are a highly dangerous young man and you will pose a very considerable risk to women for a very considerable period in the future.’
Miss McLaren suffered at least 75 knife wounds and her throat was completely cut, Maidstone Crown Court has heard.
Just minutes before the attack, she had messaged her friends telling them she was ‘looking over her shoulder all the time’ because of her obsessive ex.
Miss McLaren’s mother, Joanne, told the court via a statement that her daughter was ‘increasingly anxious’ about a series of derogatory comments Stimpson had posted online, including the false claim that she was taking cocaine.
In one post, Stimpson had simply written: ‘There’s more to come.’
Ms McLaren’s mother said that her daughter had told her that Stimpson had bipolar disorder.
She wrote: ‘I just feel completely numb and broken. It doesn’t feel real.’
Speaking after today’s verdicts, senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Ali Worton paid tribute Miss McLaren’s family.
DS Worton said: ‘Molly was a popular and ambitious young woman with her whole life ahead of her but this was stolen by Stimpson in the most brutal way imaginable.
‘He has proven to be an extremely dangerous individual and needs to spend a lengthy period of time in prison where he can cause no further harm to innocent people.
‘It was clear to the jury and us that Molly’s death was pre-planned and that Stimpson is a cold and calculated killer rather than somebody who does not have the mental capacity to control himself.
‘By denying murder and failing to accept responsibility for his actions, he forced Molly’s family and friends to suffer even further distress through the tough ordeal of a crown court trial.
‘I would like to pay tribute to Molly’s family for the strength and dignity they have shown throughout and I hope this result is of some comfort.’
Stimpson denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming he had a ‘borderline personality disorder’ after his parents split up when he was young.
Consultant Dr Shahid Majid said Stimpson had a ‘hypersensitivity to any rejection’ after his parents separated and, when his relationship with Miss McLaren ended, he switched to trying to ‘control, frighten and harm her’.
But prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC argued that Stimpson had ‘carefully considered the execution of Molly’ and his actions before her death showed he was ‘following her movements, waiting for the moment that he has chosen to kill her’.
Two previous girlfriends of Stimpson told how he stalked them after they split from him.
Alexandra Dale said he would follow her and take pictures of her, asking why she was wearing certain clothes. He also sent her a photo of her back garden and threatened to drown her on holiday.
Another of his ex-girlfriends, Leah Hubbard, said he spat drink all over her in a nightclub after they split, then waited outside for hours for her to leave.
Joshua Stimpson was warned twice by police officers to stay away from Molly McLaren before he stabbed her to death.
He started posting messages on Facebook claiming she had been taking drugs five days after they had broken up.
She reported the posts to Facebook but nothing happened, so she went with her mother Joanna to North Kent Police Station.
A police officer called Stimpson in their presence, put him on speakerphone and warned him to stop or face prosecution.
When the officer said: ‘We wouldn’t want Molly to come to the police station again about you, would we?’, Stimpson replied: ‘Wouldn’t we?’
The 26-year-old was spoken to by police for a second time on June 27 last year, just two days before her death.
Alexandra Dale, who dated him in 2013, had also reported his behaviour towards her to police.
Kent Police reported itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, now known as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), after Ms McLaren’s death.
A spokesman for the force said: ‘Following careful assessment it was determined that this matter could be investigated by Kent Police’s professional standards department.’
The force said the inquiry would be finalised once criminal proceedings were concluded.
In their statement after the case, Miss McLaren’s family said more needs to be done the raise awareness of digital stalking and its dangers.
Stimpson had previously seen his doctor and said he thought he was bipolar. He was put on prescription medication and referred to a mental health doctor in July 2016, but did not engage.
Although he was prescribed the medication at the time of the attack, it is not known whether he was taking it.
A brave bystander tried to intervene in the deadly attack on Molly McLaren, tackling Stimpson in a bid to stop him.
Benjamin Morton, tried to pull Stimpson off Molly and shut his leg in the door. He also tried to grab his leg but it slipped from his grip because of the blood on it.
After Stimpson was jailed for life today, Miss McLaren’s family paid tribute to Mr Morton and told of their anguish.
Their full statement said: ‘The last six months have been horrid beyond belief.
‘We couldn’t have got through it without the love and support of family and friends.
The statement continued: ‘The number of Molly’s friends has staggered us, the like of which we have never known. Those that have visited and shared in our pain have been a great help.
‘We would like to thank Kent Police for their diligence collecting and collating the evidence. We would also like to thank the prosecution team for expediting the due process of the law.
‘The full extent of the digital stalking of Molly by Joshua Stimpson may never be known.
‘We would like to thank Benjamin Morton for his brave efforts at the carpark when he tried to intervene, and hope one day to thank him personally.
‘The contrast in morality between these two people could not be more profound.
‘However, in light of this case, we feel that there needs to be more awareness over the dangers of stalking and the need for people to report any concerns over stalking to the police.
‘The verdict has brought us a small measure of comfort, but it seems that nothing will take away the pain or allow us to come to terms with our Molly being taken from us. We are serving a lifetime of pain, anguish and loss.
‘This has affected so many people’s lives and our hearts go out to each and every one of you.
‘Our focus now turns to making sure Molly will live on through The Molly McLaren Foundation, helping people with eating disorders.
‘Thank you all for your ongoing support with this.
‘A light has gone out in all of our hearts but shines bright as a star forever glowing.
‘We love you Molly.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Richard Spillett