Stalking, death threats kept coming after one-off Tinder date

Incessant ... Karen Laing is back behind bars after her latest bout of stalking. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
Incessant ... Karen Laing is back behind bars after her latest bout of stalking. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A one-off Tinder date led to nearly four years of stalking and threats, a court has heard.

The only time the harassment stopped was when 31-year-old Karen Ilya Laing was behind bars at Christchurch Women’s Prison, where she was jailed for two years and three months on charges of threatening to kill and one of criminal harassment.

The woman appeared in the Dunedin District Court on Monday by video link from prison.

Laing’s criminal history stretches back 12 years but her most recent victim became the target of her vitriol following a horror date in 2006.

It resulted in the defendant sending her victim numerous messages before turning up at his flat and breaking open the front door before assaulting him.

Every time Laing has been released she has contacted the victim. Her obsession engulfed his family this time.

Despite serving a sentence of intensive supervision and being warned explicitly to cease communication, the defendant spent more than three months peppering the man with calls and messages.

Between December 2, 2018 and March 9, 2019, Laing sent her victim, whose name was permanently suppressed, nearly 300 messages.

“The messages ranged from selfie pictures to abuse and aggressive threats,” police said.

In the following weeks, her garbled threats of violence became more intense.

“I don’t need to be a stalker I don’t need to contact you I need to kill you,” said one.

“My feelings are to murder you and I will enjoy it because I don’t like you I’m going to get you for what you’ve done.”

Despite the victim’s family having an unlisted phone number, Laing called them — repeatedly.

When they blocked her social-media accounts, she simply established new ones under false names.

As “Rachel Lauren”, she again stressed her plans to kill.

“You think there’s something wrong with me and that I’m fat and ugly . . . people like you need to f***ing die,” Laing wrote.

Even being interviewed and charged by police did not quell her aggression.

Laing sent the victim’s mother 13 messages on Facebook featuring similar unpunctuated rants as before.

“This is beginning to destroy people’s lives,” Judge Kevin Phillips said.

Counsel Brian Kilkelly said his client had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and other personality disorders but had undertaken extensive one-on-one counselling while in prison for the past nine months.

The key, he said, was committing to a life without social media.

Health professionals found Laing struggled to understand how her victims felt.

She said the way she had been treated by the criminal justice system made her very angry and if she got another custodial sentence she would consider committing a more serious crime she felt justified it. Laing did not think herself capable of that, she said.

Her victim said he struggled to sleep and was anxious every time his phone rang.

“When will this end? How long do I have to keep my head down and hide from this situation?” he wrote in a statement.

“Karen one day may eventually find me and what do I do?”

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter