| 4.5°C Dublin

Rape threats Sex stalker's sick letters and campaign of terror against mother

An Australian native, salesman Steele was apprehended preparing to enter the mother-of-two's property armed with a crowbar, duct tape, rope and an 11-inch sex toy strapped to his body.

Close

James Steele was jailed for five years.

James Steele was jailed for five years.

Harassment victim Una Ring at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Harassment victim Una Ring at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

/

James Steele was jailed for five years.

The Sunday World can today reveal for the first time, the full shocking details of the Garda operation that led to vile sex-stalker James Steele being caught red-handed.

We reveal the first images of the sickening rape threat letters Steele left at the home of his victim, Una Ring, and show the sinister 'x and o' graffiti he spray-painted on the front of her home warning her 'I win'.

Close

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Details of 52-year-old Steele's arrest outside Una's home in Youghal, Co. Cork, in the early hours of July 27, 2020, horrified the nation as they emerged at his sentencing hearing this week.

An Australian native, salesman Steele was apprehended preparing to enter the mother-of-two's property armed with a crowbar, duct tape, rope and an 11-inch sex toy strapped to his body.

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

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin jailed Steele for five years after being told he 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.

Close

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Steele sent Ms Ring disgusting letters demanding sex

Today, a senior source with knowledge of the investigation that led to Steele's capture, details how:

The decision to mount round-the-clock surveillance on Una's home was taken at a meeting at Youghal garda station on July 23 - just hours after warning her that she and her daughter would be raped;

Close

Steele threatened to rape Una Ring and her daughter

Steele threatened to rape Una Ring and her daughter

Steele threatened to rape Una Ring and her daughter
  • Officers were on their fourth consecutive night of surveillance when Garda James Heffernan spotted Steele and confronted and arrested him;
  • Under questioning, Steele 'appeared detached' and unable to appreciate the seriousness of his offences - insisting his horrific stalking campaign was 'a game'.
  • While terrorising former co-worker Una, Steele was portraying himself as 'a model citizen' in his adopted home in Rosscarberry;
  • Gardaí believe that had he manged to succeed in his plan to rape Una on the night of June 27, he intended on returning to his wife and children as if nothing had happened;
  • Steele's previous conviction for indecent assault in Australia occurred when he was 18 and arose after he lured a girl from a disco and then wrestled her to the ground and inappropriately touched her until she managed to free herself.

"From what gardaí were able to determine, James Steele had no plan beyond what he was going to do when he broke into the house that night," the source told the Sunday World.

"There were no flights booked and no indication he was going to do anything other afterwards than head back home to his family in Rosscarberry and get on with his life as if nothing had happened."

Asked whether investigators believe Una would have to have been killed in order for Steele to make this happen, the source said gardaí didn't speculate beyond the end of the night but "Una would have known who did this to her."

Speaking of Steele's life in Cork since he moved to this country and married an Irish woman more than 10 years ago, the source said the vile stalker worked as a salesman for a Dublin-based insulation company and had portrayed himself as a model citizen.

"He was a pillar of the community," the source said. "He was heavily involved in the two most popular sports in the area, rowing and rugby, and he brought his own children to sporting events almost every weekend.

"Outwardly, this was a very respectable family man. His colleagues described him as a loquacious and affable sort of fella. But it was like some switched flicked in him and he came after Una Ring in a most terrible fashion.

"When he was arrested and asked what he had been doing, he claimed it had started out as a game. But it takes two to play a game and that wasn't the case here - and he just up-scaled it all of the time."

During this week's sentencing hearing, the court heard Steele knew of Una from work but that they had no friendship or relationship of any sort.

In February 2020, he told her he was changing jobs and asked her to assist him with filing and IT in his new office in Cork.

On February 14, 2020, as she attempted to help him with such a move, he made amorous approaches which she rejected.

From that date until April 1, the married father of two sent her 20 text messages. She ignored the majority of these, only answering ones that were work related. He then messaged saying he was going to call to her home. Una became fearful and told him to stop contacting her.

Contact ceased but Una remained uneasy and on June 12 of last year she reported the matter to gardaí in Youghal.

On July 7, 2020, Una woke to find her car wheels had been painted pink. On July 13, she discovered graffiti on her front window and window sill.

Nine square panels had been daubed with Xs and Os and the words "I win" had been painted on her window sill.

The following day she went to her car to find a black envelope on her windscreen. It contained the first typed letter and two condoms.

The writer told her to leave her backdoor open so he could go to her home for sex. He said he hoped she was "shaved downstairs" as he liked it "smooth".

He told her he was watching her.

Close

James Steele was caught on camera dressed for
his attack

James Steele was caught on camera dressed for his attack

James Steele was caught on camera dressed for his attack

Una made a further statement to gardaí and CCTV was installed at her home.

On July 23, 2020, she found another envelope on her windscreen.

This time, Steele warned her they were going to have sex and that she had two options. These included leaving the back door of her property open for sex by consent. If this didn't occur he would rape her and her daughter.

Close

Harassment victim Una Ring at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Harassment victim Una Ring at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Harassment victim Una Ring at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

On July 27 at 3.45am, on the fourth night of surveillance, gardaí intercepted Steele as approached the driveway of the house of his intended victim in Youghal.

Our source said, within hours of Una contacting gardaí about the second letter, a meeting was set up in Youghal Garda Station where the decision was taken to place Una's home under round-the-clock surveillance.

"Thankfully, he came back to the house sooner rather than later, because an operation like this requires sustained resources," the source said.

"If it had gone on for three weeks then you'd have to look at it again but it didn't, he came back on the fourth night and we got him. I think the intervention that night did stop something very bad happening,"

Asked if there had been anything in Steele's past that would have indicated he was capable of such an act, the source said there was a previous incident but nothing on a par with this.

"He was originally from Australia and when he was 18 years old he was convicted of indecent assault over there. But after he came to Ireland there was nothing … he lived a model life … until this, he was a model citizen."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Top Videos





Privacy