Tinder date that went wrong: Relentless stalker appeals sentence

Incessant ... Karen Laing is back behind bars after her latest bout of stalking. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
Karen Laing. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A relentless stalker, who made explicit threats of "murder", has appealed her sentence, claiming it was manifestly excessive.

Karen Ilya Laing (32) was jailed for two years, three months on two charges of threatening to kill and one of criminal harassment when she was sentenced in May.

The case came before the High Court at Dunedin yesterday, where counsel John Westgate argued the penalty against Laing was too harsh.

However, he was quick to point out he was not suggesting his client be sentenced to home detention.

"I’m not saying she shouldn’t go to prison; she should. She needs to be in prison to get the help she’s getting," Mr Westgate said.

Laing’s criminal history spanned 12 years. Her most recent victim became the target of her vitriol following a Tinder date that went horribly wrong.

She sent the man numerous messages before turning up at his flat, breaking open the front door and assaulting him.

Since then, Laing had been convicted several times over her unlawful contact with the victim.

Her most recent offending also involved his family.

The court at sentencing heard Laing spent more than three months peppering the man with calls and messages.

"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."

When the family blocked Laing’s 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... die," Laing wrote.

She even sent the victim’s mother 13 messages on Facebook featuring similar aggressive rants after being interviewed by police.

The court heard Laing had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and other personality disorders and was undertaking therapy while behind bars.

Crown prosecutor at appeal Chris Bernhardt said the use of the word "murder" in many of the messages sent by the defendant was more sinister than typical threats heard by the court.

Justice Gerald Nation agreed.

"It’s probably more scary for them than just talking about ‘killing’," he said.

Mr Bernhardt acknowledged Laing’s sentence was "stern" but said it was appropriate that the Parole Board determined her release.

If the woman’s sentence was reduced to two years or less she would be automatically released after serving half.

Mr Westgate said a reduction in the sentence could ultimately keep Laing behind bars longer since she would otherwise be seeing the Parole Board soon.

Justice Nation reserved his decision.

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