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terrifying obsession Victim tells of stalker hell as man jailed for attempted burglary and intent to rape

The victim said she was so terrified she considered getting her details tattooed onto her body so that if she was kidnapped and killed, it would assist Gardaí.

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James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

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James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

A MAN was jailed for five years for a terrifying stalker-style campaign against a woman he became obsessed with and who he had warned he would rape after breaking into her house.

Gardaí arrested James Steele (52) after a special surveillance operation had to be mounted around the woman's home and he was found to be in possession of items including duct tape, rope and a plastic sex toy.

Steele of Reavilleen Rosscarbery, Co Cork later told detectives the only explanation he could offer for his actions was that he had become totally obsessed with his former work colleague, Una Ring.

The victim was so terrified she considered getting her identification details tattooed onto her body so that if she was kidnapped and killed, it would assist Gardaí.

Judge Sean O'Donnabháin was told Steele had pleaded guilty to charges of harassment, attempted burglary with intent to rape, possession of articles with intent to cause a crime and two counts of criminal damage.

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James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

The court heard that Steele, a salesman and a father of two, had asked out a work colleague, Una Ring, in February 2020.

Despite being firmly rebuffed, he began sending the woman a stream of text messages - even when she asked him to stop.

She then awoke one morning and left her east Cork home to discover the tyres on her car had all been painted pink.

The victim lives at the property with her adult son and daughter.

Some time later, she discovered that a game of Xs and Os had been daubed overnight on the outside window of her house - and the sinister message 'I Win' had been added.

Days later, she left her home to discover that letters in black envelopes had been placed on her car windscreen.

One letter was found to contain a grim threat - that the individual would break into her home via the back door and rape not just her but her daughter.

The terrified woman contacted Gardaí and they mounted a special surveillance operation around her home in a quiet estate.

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Sergeant John Sharkey told the court that Gardaí spotted an individual arriving at the housing estate in the early hours of July 27.

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CCTV image of James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

CCTV image of James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

CCTV image of James Steele of Reavilleen, Roscarberry, County Cork, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Garda James Heffernan identified the defendant. The man hid behind a parked vehicle and then began walking slowly towards the victim's home.

The individual's head was covered by a hat and hood.

Later, when searched, the individual was found to have a roll of duct tape, a length of orange rope, a medium sized metal crowbar and a sex toy.

The 27cm sex toy, which was wrapped in a condom, was strapped to his body.

Subsequent Garda searches found that the defendant had also conducted an Internet search in respect of chloroform.

Before sentencing, Steele apologised to the victim - and, in a Garda statement, acknowledged that his actions must have left her "mortified, scared and frightened."

The court was told the Australian national, who has a 1986 conviction in his native country for an indecent assault, deeply regretted what had happened.

Ms Ring said both she and her family were left totally distraught by the campaign and existed in a constant state of fear until Gardaí made their arrest.

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Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, flanked by Sergeant John Sharkey and Insp Eoghan Healy.

Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, flanked by Sergeant John Sharkey and Insp Eoghan Healy.

Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, flanked by Sergeant John Sharkey and Insp Eoghan Healy.

"I was so certain that James Steele was going to break in and attack me that I used to tidy up the house each night before going to bed so that the house would be presentable for the crime scene photos," she said.

"I even considered getting a tattoo with my name, town name and date of birth so that if he abducted and killed me that my body would be easily and quickly identified - that's how utterly terrified I was...I still am."

"James Steele has destroyed my life in the last year. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, have ongoing nightmares and have suffered from depression and anxiety. I am on four different types of medication just to get me through the day."

"I hate being alone. I even check the car to ensure that no one has broken in and is lying in the back waiting for me."

"When I close my eyes I can see James Steele walking towards my front door with a crowbar ready to attack. I dread to think what would have happened if it wasn't for the operation that Gardaí had put in place."

Judge O'Donnabháin warned that the victim had been put through a terrible ordeal and described Steele's actions as "horrific".

He imposed a seven year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final two years in light of Steele's plea and his cooperation with Gardaí.

Judge O'Donnabháin warned that the defendant must never again have any contact, direct or indirect, with the victim or her family.

Ms Ring said she was happy with the sentence but had been hoping for a maximum 14 year prison term.

She warned she would never forgive Steele for the trauma he had put her and her family through.

"Obviously I would have preferred a higher sentence - there is nothing high enough for what I went through," she said.

"I am happy with it. I knew he was not going to get the full 14 years.

I knew it was not going to be what I wanted."

"But Judge (O'Donnabháin) was very fair in everything he said so I am happy enough."


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