Murder victim Molly McLaren's family call for more awareness of stalking dangers

The family of a university student stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in a shopping centre car park have called for more to be done to raise awareness of the dangers of stalking.

Their comments come as Joshua Stimpson was jailed for life at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday after murdering Molly McLaren in Chatham, Kent, on June 29 last year.

During his trial it emerged he had stalked the 23-year-old as well as two other past girlfriends.

Joshua Stimpson court case
Joshua Stimpson and Molly McLaren as the warehouse worker has been jailed for murdering his ex-girlfriend in a shopping centre car park (Kent Police/PA)

Kent Police referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct which told the force to carry out an internal inquiry.

Reading a statement on behalf of Ms McLaren's family, acting detective inspector Alistair Worton said: "We feel there needs to be more awareness over the dangers of stalking and the need for people to report any concerns that they may have to the police.

"The verdict has brought us a small measure of comfort. But it seems 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.

"A light has gone out in our hearts but shines bright as a star forever above us. We love you Molly."

Joanne McLaren, the mother of Molly McLaren, listens as a  statement is read out outside Maidstone Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Joanne McLaren, the mother of Molly McLaren, listens as a statement is read outside Maidstone Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The pair met on Tinder and dated for seven months but the warehouse worker turned "nasty" when Ms McLaren, who was from Cobham and had been studying sport and health education at the University of Kent, ended their relationship.

In the two weeks that followed, Stimpson stalked her and posted derogatory messages on Facebook falsely claiming she had been taking cocaine, warning there was "more to come".

She reported him to police and he was twice warned by officers to leave her alone or face prosecution.

CCTV picture of Joshua Stimpson buying a knife (Kent Police/PA)
CCTV picture of Joshua Stimpson buying a knife (Kent Police/PA)

On June 27 CCTV captured him buying a kitchen knife in Asda in Chatham and then a pickaxe half an hour later in a nearby Homebase.

On the morning of June 29, Ms McLaren went to PureGym at the Dockside outlet. Stimpson arrived shortly after and put his exercise mat near hers. Ms McLaren texted then called her mother, who told her to go straight home.

Then she said to friends in a final WhatsApp message: "Feel like I'm f****** looking over my shoulder all the time."

Just moments later, Kodie Jarvis saw Stimpson "yank" open the door of Ms McLaren's Citroen C2 in the outlet's car park and heard her scream as he started carrying out the frenzied attack.

Passerby Benjamin Morton tried to intervene, but Stimpson continued to stab her more than 75 times with the kitchen knife he bought two days before.

When officers arrived minutes later, Stimpson, of Wouldham, Rochester, was pacing up and down by the car, covered in blood.

He walked towards the police car and calmly said: "You want me" before being arrested.

He claimed to have no memory of the attack and his barristers said psychiatric assessments showed he had a borderline personality disorder.

Before standing trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility but denied murder.

Stimpson showed no emotion as Judge Adele Williams jailed him for a minimum of 26 years and said he may never be released.

She said: "This was a cruel, calculated and cowardly act. This was an act of wickedness."

Molly McLaren had reported Joshua Stimpson to the police (Kent Police/PA
Molly McLaren had reported Joshua Stimpson to the police (Kent Police/PA

She described the Ms McLaren as "beautiful and intelligent", adding: "I am sure you are not suffering from a personality disorder. You planned this killing."

Ms McLaren's family, sat in a packed public gallery, cried as the sentence was read out.

As Stimpson was led to the cells, there were claps and one of her relatives shouted: "Go on, you bastard."

They said their focus was now to ensure Ms McLaren's memory lived on through a foundation set up in her name to help people with eating disorders.

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