Tinder stalker jailed for fifth time

Karen Laing
Karen Laing
A Dunedin stalker has been jailed for the fifth time after sending a man nearly 200 text messages within two days.

Karen Ilya Laing (29) came before the Dunedin District Court again yesterday having admitted a charge of criminal harassment - her ninth such conviction.

Judge Kevin Phillips sentenced her to 10 months' imprisonment and six months' release conditions, barring her from cellphone or internet use during that time.

Reviewers assessed Laing as having neither remorse nor insight into how her actions had devastated her victim.

''She minimises the risk and harm she's caused and continues to perceive herself as the victim,'' one said.

The object of her obsession was an Auckland man she had targeted multiple times in the past. She originally met the man through dating app Tinder.

Laing got back in touch with the man in August, despite her most recent jail term having ended only weeks earlier.

Between 1.10am on August 19 and 11pm the next day - a 46-hour period - the defendant sent the victim 199 text messages.

''Most of the messages are nonsensical ramblings but overall show a clear frustration at the victim's lack of interest in her,'' a police summary said.

''The victim did not reply to any of the messages but is concerned the defendant's behaviour may again escalate to the point where his safety and his family's safety is at risk.''

When Laing was approached by police over her unwanted advances, she explained she had sent the messages because ''she believes the victim's life is too perfect''.

The man, who has been incessantly stalked by the woman, said he had had to block six phone numbers and change his own in a bid to evade her.

However, Laing had found out where he worked and had written a letter to one of his friends.

''He just wishes it would all stop,'' Judge Phillips said.

Counsel Rhona Daysh said her client had just started psychological counselling and urged the judge not to send the woman to prison.

''She is as quiet as a mouse at home but when she's out in society she has this deep-seated longing, like all of us, to be accepted,'' she said.

Laing had been diagnosed as having a form of autism and Ms Daysh said imprisonment would hinder her progress in addressing her psychological problems.

However, Judge Phillips said there was no other sentence that would adequately protect the victim.

Laing and her victim exchanged details over the dating app in 2015.

But the relationship soured significantly and in September the next year, Laing arrived at the man's house and ''bashed open'' the front door, after being asked to leave.

She barged in and grabbed the man around the neck, pulling him towards her.

The victim managed to slip out of the shirt he was wearing and barricaded himself in his bedroom.

Laing tried to force her way in.

Eventually, the man took action and pinned her to the ground until police arrived.

Laing was imprisoned for four months over the incident but was back in court in June last year when she was locked up again for eight months.

That offending featured the same man from the failed Tinder date and a shop employee she stalked and later threatened.

Laing's Auckland victim previously told the Otago Daily Times he did not want to comment on his ordeal.


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