Court hears teenager strangled girl to have sex with her

They found Mathieson lying dead on the stairs with red marks around her neck
They found Mathieson lying dead on the stairs with red marks around her neck

A teenager strangled to death an 18-year-old girl in order to have sex with her, a court heard today.

Asperger syndrome sufferer Jason Conroy, 19, attacked Melissa Mathieson in October last year at the Alexandra House residential home in Bristol where they both lived.

After she passed out unconscious, Conroy began dragging her from her third floor bedroom to his room on the second floor but was thwarted when staff were alerted to a banging door.

They found Miss Mathieson lying dead on the stairs with red marks around her neck and Conroy appearing shortly afterwards looking "shaky and nervous", Bristol Crown Court heard.

The then 18-year-old fled and was next seen on the roof of the home threatening to jump off and kill himself.

Hours before the fatal attack on October 12 Miss Mathieson had told care staff that Conroy was stalking her and was making her feel scared.

Adam Vaitilingam QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "The defendant had a history of disturbed behaviour, including the use of violence and sexually inappropriate behaviour.

"The defendant assaulted Melissa by strangling her in her bedroom and then dragging her from her room towards his, but when a door banged and support workers came looking upstairs he dropped her on the stairs, where she was later found by them."

After being arrested, Conroy told officers: "I am responsible."

Later that day, while still at the police station, he confessed to Alexandra House general manager Yvonne Hin to attacking Miss Mathieson.

"Jason said that what he did was a repeat of what happened two years ago. She believed that he was referring to an incident where he strangled a female staff member at a previous school," Mr Vaitilingam said.

"At one point Jason said he shouldn't have done it as it had got him in quite a lot of bother. He said that he thought that he had learned from last time but that obviously he hadn't. He said that sometimes something comes over him and he cannot control himself."

The court heard that when aged 17 and at a residential school Conroy had grabbed a female teacher around the neck from behind and strangled her until she passed out. He later told another teacher that he had been trying to kill her.

Mr Vaitilingam explained: "He admitted to the assault and said he had been having sexual thoughts about her but he knew he was not allowed to have sex with her. He explained his assault on her by saying that if she was dead she would no longer be a staff member and therefore the rules would no longer be broken.

"It was a very lucky escape for her but it was a chilling precursor of what was to happen to Melissa Mathieson just 16 months later when the defendant strangled her to death.

"He has admitted to strangling her and he was to tell psychiatrists later that his intention in strangling her was so that he could take her back to his room to have sex with her."

The court heard that on the day of the attack one staff member, Elaine Coleman, saw Conroy "staring" at Miss Mathieson and told colleagues to keep an eye on the pair.

Later, Miss Mathieson told a member of staff: "He makes me feel really uncomfortable. It feels like he is lurking behind corners in the corridors and whenever I turn around, he's around."

On the night of the attack, Miss Mathieson told another staff member: "I'm feeling really scared. It feels like he's stalking me." Mr Vaitilingam said: "Elaine Coleman went off shift but before she left she told two of the remaining support workers to be extra vigilant overnight and that when Jason and Melissa went upstairs to bed they were to be followed up and checked that they locked their doors."

A post mortem examination concluded that Miss Mathieson had been strangled and had suffered a heart attack as a result.

Mr Vaitilingam said that four psychiatrists agreed that Conroy suffers from autistic spectrum disorder and also has a low IQ and a significant learning disability.

"At least one of the psychiatrists also believes that he suffers from deviant sexual interests, with behaviour that ranges from inappropriate to hostile and stalking, and fantasies that include strangulation and rape," he said.

Conroy, of Savoy Road, Bristol denies a single charge of murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility - a plea not accepted by the prosecution.

The trial continues.