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'Thrilled' New stalking bill brought before the Seanad a year after one victim found graffiti daubed on her wall

Una Ring, who said she had been involved with this bill “every step of the way”, said the timing of its introduction was ironic

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Una Ring said "we have put our hearts and souls" into the new legislation

Una Ring said "we have put our hearts and souls" into the new legislation

Una Ring said "we have put our hearts and souls" into the new legislation

New legislation aimed at making stalking an offence has been brought before the Seanad a year after one campaigner who helped draw it up found graffiti daubed on her wall by a man who was stalking her.

Una Ring from Cork as well as Eve McDowell from Sligo, who was also targeted by a stalker, joined the Cork Sexual Violence Centre in a bid to see specific legislation for stalking enacted.

Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers introduced the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person (Amendment) (Stalking) Bill 2021 yesterday that will make stalking an offence.

Una, who said she had been involved with this bill “every step of the way”, said the timing of its introduction was ironic.

“This day last year, I woke up to see Xs and Os on my window. We didn’t know at the time who was doing it.”

The words “I win” were written on the windowsill.

In February, James Steele (52) from Rosscarbery, was jailed for seven years in February, two of which were suspended, after pleading guilty to harassment, criminal damage and attempted trespass with the intent to commit rape at Ms Ring’s home in Youghal between February 14, 2020, and July 27, 2020.

The Cork mum-of-two had been subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of Steele, an Australian native.

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.

A 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.

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Days after she discovered the Xs and Os and the sinister 'I Win' message, 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.

Sergeant John Sharkey later 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.

In May 2020, Polish man Igor Lewandowski from Monasterevin, Co Kildare, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to harassing Ms McDowell on dates between May 10 and May 27, 2019, in Galway.

In April, Una and Eve McDowell launched a campaign seeking the introduction of specific stalking legislation.

At present, staking is prosecuted under the umbrella offence of harassment, which is part of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

Under that legislation, a person is guilty of an offence if they harass another, by means including by telephone, by “persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating” with another.

The new bill is expected to come before the Seanad in September, with hopes it will progress through the Oireachtas and become law.

Una told The Echo: “This is just step one but we are thrilled. We have put our hearts and souls into it."

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