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horror crime Harrassment victim says she was 'floored' when told her stalker was caught with a crowbar and duct tape

Una Ring was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of Australian native, salesman James Steele (52).

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Harassment victim Una Ring from Roscarberry pictured 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.

The Cork mum-of-two whose stalker nightmare came to end when her would-be assailant was captured as he prepared to break into her home has spoken of her terror and relief at his capture.

Una Ring was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of Australian native, salesman James Steele (52).

He was caught with a crowbar, duct tape, rope and an 11-inch sex toy strapped to his body on the night of July 27 last year.

He had also hidden his identity by wearing a hat, a snood and had blue plastic gloves on his hands.

He was jailed for five years on February 4, after pleading 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

James 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 Ms Ring, a former work colleague.

The court heard that Steele, a salesman and a father of two, had asked out Ms 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.

Sometime 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.

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Steele daubed Ms Ring’s house with graffiti.

Steele daubed Ms Ring’s house with graffiti.

Steele daubed Ms Ring’s house with graffiti.

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.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio this morning, Una told how that letter was a “game changer”.

“The letter again said, ‘hello neighbour’, and it said I had two choices, one that I could leave my door open and we’ll have sex by consent or two, I will break in and rape you and your daughter.

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Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

“The guards were up and detectives had been in and out it but now it wasn’t just the guards coming in and taking a statement. Now it was up to a new level.

"They had put an operation in place where they would sit two doors down outside the house in an unmarked car from 12pm until 5am.

“They had a meeting and were (deciding) whether they were going to go and charge him after receiving the letter and hope that he confessed or hang on and wait to see he would show up. Thankfully, they made the choice to wait and see if he would show up.

“I think we all knew he was going to show up,” she added, “and four nights later he did and thankfully he was arrested on my property.”

Earlier this month, Sergeant John Sharkey told a court hearing that Gardaí spotted an individual arriving at the housing estate in the early hours of July 27.

Garda James Heffernan identified Steele..

Later, when searched, Steele 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 Steele had also conducted an Internet search in respect of chloroform.

Una described how she was terror of that night and her relief as he was finally caught.

“The weather was so bad that night that maybe he thought that there would be nobody out in this. Maybe he thought it would be a safer night for him to get in unnoticed because it was windy.

"And with the rain it brought a bit of noise (to cover him) if he wanted to break in.

“I woke at 2am and I just could not go back to sleep. I was fully dressed because I really did think that this will be the night.

"And at a quarter to four I heard muffled voices outside and I went into the spare room and looked out. A few minutes before his arrest and there was a squad car and a paddy wagon (waiting for him outside).

“I was relived and I was ecstatic,” she said. “But I hadn’t seen the CCTV footage and I didn’t know he had a crow bar and that took the wind out of my sails a bit.

"I never thought that he was going to do what he had threatened to do, never in a million years.

“I just thought ‘OK they’re after arresting him, all this messing is over now I can get back to normal life’.

"But it was my daughter who looked back at the CCTV footage who said, ‘mam, he had a crowbar’ and that floored me to be honest.

"And then we heard what else he had on him.

"He had rope and duct tape and he had a prosthetic penis strapped to himself and a condom attached to that.”

Una told how, during her ordeal, she was going to get a tattoo with her name, address and date of birth so that if he abducted and killed her and if her body was found quickly it would speed up the process of identification.

Una expressed surprise at the attention the case generated.

“I knew it would make the local news, I really didn't think it was going to be as big as it was.

"But I'm glad I did it because there are so many people out there and it's only afterwards you hear of stories (like mine).

“And I want people to know really that that. help is there. The guards were absolutely brilliant. I really can’t praise them enough. They saved my life really.”

She also advised people who found themselves in similar circumstances to “get a notebook and jot things down, so if you get a chance to report it you will have a little bit of history there.

“There is no point in walking in and saying, ‘I’m reporting this but I have nothing to back it up’. You need to give the guards something to work with.”

Speaking after the case Una 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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