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Sex-obsessed teen gets life for murder of 18-year-old woman

Jason Conroy attacked Melissa Mathieson at a residential home they lived in
Jason Conroy attacked Melissa Mathieson at a residential home they lived in

A sex-obsessed teenager has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering an 18-year-old woman.

Jason Conroy, 19, strangled Melissa Mathieson at the residential home where they both lived and attempted to drag her body to his room in order to have sex with her.

Conroy, who has Asperger's syndrome, had a history of sexually disturbed behaviour and had been diagnosed as suffering from "deviant sexual interests", which included fantasies about strangulation and rape

He had previously strangled a teacher at his former residential school and later told psychiatrists that he wanted to kill her in order to have sex with her.

Conroy, of Savoy Road, Bristol, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but was convicted of murder by the jury at the city's crown court following a week-long trial.

Judge Graham Cottle passed a life sentence on Conroy and told him he would have to serve at least 19 years' imprisonment before he could be considered for parole.

"Although the murder was very clearly sexually motivated there was in fact no sexual assault," he said.

"The sole reason for that, as I find, is that your intentions were thwarted by the support staff being alerted to a disturbance on the landing.

"There were a number of instances when you had exhibited sexual deviancy of the most worrying kind.

"You developed a fantasy of having sex with a woman who you strangled first, at least to the point of unconsciousness if not death.

"While at Alexandra House the evidence establishes you had become fixated with Melissa. You stalked her and your intention was to have sexual intercourse with her.

"You knew she would not consent to it and so you determined to kill her and then have sex with her.

"While the consultant forensic psychiatrists called to give evidence in this case may have been in disagreement about the defence of diminished responsibility advanced on your behalf, they were united in the view that you pose a very serious risk for the foreseeable future.

"The conclusion that I reach is that you pose a very serious danger to the public, in particular young women, and the fixing of the minimum term should properly reflect that finding."

Miss Mathieson's family said there were questions that needed answering and welcomed the Safeguarding Adults Review into her death.

They described her as "a gentle, kind and lovely girl" and said her death had left a "huge, huge hole in our lives".

"We know better than most people the difficulties that autism can present so our feelings about Jason Conroy are not based on ignorance of his condition," they said.

"What he has done is awful; we cannot comprehend it. He has deprived a brother of his sister.

"It has been incredibly difficult to sit through the trial and listen to the evidence, especially the history of Jason Conroy's previous sexually deviant and aggressive behaviour.

"Melissa believed wholeheartedly that the care system was the safest place to be to help her with her difficulties.

"We feel that there are still many questions that need to be answered by many organisations, including Social Services and the NHS, about how Melissa and Jason Conroy came to be in a situation which ultimately led to Melissa's death."

The trial heard that staff at Alexandra House in Bristol knew of Conroy's attack on the teacher when he moved in a month before Miss Mathieson's death in October last year.

The residential home provides accommodation for adult men and women who suffer from Asperger's and different forms of autism.

The court heard that hours before the fatal attack on October 12 Miss Mathieson told care home staff Conroy was stalking her and making her feel scared.

One care worker told the night staff to be "extra vigilant overnight" and ensure that both Conroy and Miss Mathieson locked their bedroom doors when they went to bed.

But Conroy slipped out of his second floor room and went upstairs to Miss Mathieson, let himself into her unlocked room and while she slept attacked her.

When he was arrested a short time later, he told police: "I am responsible."

Senior investigating officer Andrew Mott, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "This was a desperately sad case in which a young person's life was cut tragically short.

"At the beginning of the investigation we made a referral to the Bristol Safeguarding Adults Board. As a result of this, a Safeguarding Adults Review is currently ongoing."