Women who dated killer Joshua Stimpson tell court of his 'strange behaviour'

Two women who dated a man who went on to stab his ex-girlfriend to death in a shopping centre car park have told a court about his "strange behaviour".

Joshua Stimpson carried out the frenzied attack on Molly McLaren, 23, with a kitchen knife as she sat in her car on June 29 last year, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Covered in blood, the 26-year-old was arrested shortly afterwards in the car park at the Dockside retail outlet in Chatham, Kent.

On Wednesday Alexandra Dale and Leah Hubbard both told the court  about their previous experiences with Stimpson.

Ms Hubbard, dated Stimpson briefly in 2016, and said she went on to refer to him as her "stalker".

She said she broke things off with him after his behaviour started to make her feel "uncomfortable".

Ms Hubbard told the court she was in a club in Maidstone with friends after she decided not to see Stimpson again when he  "spat a drink all over me".

Stimpson was thrown out of the club by a bouncer at around midnight but when Ms Hubbard left the venue some five hours later, he was sitting outside.

She added: "I felt like he was waiting for me."

In another episode he knocked on her flat window at 2am claiming his phone needed charging. 

Ms Dale met Stimpson at a pub in 2013 after six months of texts and calls. 

She said he told her not to speak to any men or male friends as "he didn't like it".

She said he used to "follow" her without her knowledge, taking pictures and asking her why she was "wearing certain clothes".

"(The pictures) came as a surprise to me, I didn't even know he was in the same club as me," Ms Dale said.

She once received a picture of her back garden, despite not telling Stimpson where she lived. And once as she was about to go on holiday messaged her saying: "I'm going to fly out and drown you."

She contacted police about his behaviour, after which the messages stopped.

The court heard that Ms McLaren, who was stabbed to death by Stimpson last year, had contacted police more than once worried by posts he had made about her online.

The student's mother, Joanne McLaren, told the court via a statement that her daughter was "increasingly anxious" about a series of derogatory comments Stimpson had posted online, including the 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 Stimpson had bipolar disorder.

The pair had been in a seven-month relationship since late 2016 after meeting on Tinder but she ended it about two weeks before she died when they began to have problems.

Jurors saw CCTV footage from the day of the attack of Ms McLaren working out at a PureGym in the retail park, with Stimpson arriving shortly afterwards and placing his mat near hers.

Joshua Stimpson court case
Handout still from CCTV dated 29/06/2017 issued by Kent Police showing Molly McLaren (left) talking to Joshua Stimpson at PureGym at the Dockside retail outlet in Chatham, Kent shortly before he stabbed her to death.

The court heard that at 10.45am Ms McLaren messaged and called her mother telling her about Stimpson's appearance, to which her mother told her to go straight home.

Ms McLaren left the gym and went to her car, where she was stabbed by Stimpson, who had bought a knife in Asda two days earlier.

The jury were shown body camera footage from police officers who arrived at the scene after Ms McLaren had been stabbed, in which Stimpson approaches their car in a blood-stained top.

Stimpson admits manslaughter but denies murder, arguing diminished responsibility.

While showing the jury the footage, Philip Bennetts QC argued that Stimpson had "carefully considered the execution of Molly".

He said he was "following her movements, waiting for the moment that he has chosen to kill her".

In her statement to the court, Ms McLaren's mother said: "I just feel completely numb and broken. It doesn't feel real."

The trial will continue on Thursday.

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