that's life (Australia)

STALKED FROM THE GYM and stabbed 75 times

Molly McLaren’s killer hid a knife in his gym bag

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Joshua Stimpson had not taken his break-up with Molly McLaren well. The couple had started dating in November 2016 after meeting online.

But seven months on, Molly, 23, had called time on the relationsh­ip, telling her mum, Joanne, and dad, Doug, that Joshua’s behaviour had grown increasing­ly controllin­g.

Unable to accept being dumped, Joshua, 26, had posted abusive messages on Molly’s Facebook page, lying about her being a drug addict and tagging her parents so they’d see.

In one message, he threatened that there was ‘more to come’.

Frightened, Molly went with her mum to the police station to report the abuse.

After a warning from of cers, Joshua removed the posts. But Molly was still scared, and texted friends to say she felt she was ‘walking on eggshells’.

One night, Joshua turned up at a pub where Molly was drinking with friends and spent the evening staring at her across the room.

Molly told her friends not to worry about it. But they had every reason to worry... The next morning – 12 days after the break-up – Molly, an exercise science student, woke up early and drove to the gym near her house.

She got to the studio around 10.10am, planning to work out and lm some of the exercises for her course.

At rst, she was alone in the upstairs room. But a short time later, Joshua arrived, carrying a large gym bag.

Then, grabbing a mat, he chillingly began working out right beside her.

CCTV footage showed Molly confrontin­g him, and asking if he was following her. She then texted her mother.

Mum, he’s turned up at the gym and come next to me, she wrote.

Terri ed, Molly left the gym in a hurry and got into her car, where she texted her friend Amy Lee to tell her what happened.

I felt like I was looking over my shoulder the whole time, she said.

As she franticall­y tapped away on her phone, Molly didn’t see Joshua approachin­g the car – holding a paring knife that he’d been concealing in his gym bag.

Yanking open the driver’s side door, he began his frenzied attack, stabbing Molly 75 times and slitting her throat.

A passer-by, Benjamin Morton, tried to stop the attack by slamming Joshua’s leg shut in the car door.

But it was too late – Molly was dead just after 11am.

Police arrested a blood-soaked Stimpson at the scene and he was charged with Molly’s murder. Although Stimpson admitted manslaught­er, he denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibi­lity.

At the trial, it was revealed that Stimpson had a history of stalking women.

The court heard from two women, Alexandra Dale and Leah Hubbard, who had both dated him.

They both described him as ‘controllin­g’ and ‘possessive’.

Yanking open the door, he began his frenzied attack

Alexandra told the court by video link that Stimpson had tried to call her 25 times in one day after a night out together, had threatened to drown her, and had slashed her car tyres.

The jury heard that, two days before the killing, Stimpson had joined Molly’s gym before going to a nearby store where he bought the knife and a pickaxe.

On the day of Molly’s death, after following her into the gym, Stimpson lay in wait in his car before slowly driving to her car, waiting for the moment he had chosen to kill her.

Stimpson’s defence team argued he was suffering from an emotionall­y unstable personalit­y disorder and had a hypersensi­tivity to rejection, which resulted in a loss of ability to exert self control.

But the jury wasn’t buying it. They found

Stimpson guilty of murder.

Molly’s family cheered and shouted ‘yes’ from the public gallery as the verdict was read out, while Stimpson remained expression­less in the dock.

In February 2018, Judge Adele Williams sentenced Joshua Stimpson to life in prison with no chance of parole for 26 years.

Molly’s mum, Joanne, 58, sobbed as a statement was read outside court. In it, her family thanked the police and Benjamin Morton ‘for his brave efforts’ after he tried to intervene in the attack.

‘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,’ they said.

‘We are serving a lifetime of pain, anguish and loss. A light has gone out in all of our hearts but shines bright as a star forever glowing. We love you Molly.’ ●

If you are experienci­ng abuse and need help, call 1800 737 732 (Aus) or 0800 456 450 (NZ).

 ??  ?? Joshua Stimpson quickly became controllin­g
Joshua Stimpson
Joanne and Molly
Joshua Stimpson quickly became controllin­g Joshua Stimpson Joanne and Molly
 ??  ?? The murder weapon
Molly McLaren
CCTV footage showing Molly and Stimpson in the gym
The murder weapon Molly McLaren CCTV footage showing Molly and Stimpson in the gym

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