Sunday 4 December 2016

Man jailed for 26 years for knife murder of hairdresser ex-girlfriend

Ben Mitchell

Published 19/08/2016 | 13:57

Katrina O'Hara, 44, who was found stabbed to death at her salon in Blandford, Dorset Credit: BBC South/PA Wire
Katrina O'Hara, 44, who was found stabbed to death at her salon in Blandford, Dorset Credit: BBC South/PA Wire

An "obsessive and controlling" married man has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years for the murder of his hairdresser ex-girlfriend.

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Stuart Thomas had "lain in wait" for Katrina O'Hara and attacked her as she went for a cigarette after finishing work at Jock's Barbers in Blandford Forum in Dorset on January 7, as concerned residents witnessed the violent struggle.

Nigel Lickley QC told Winchester Crown Court that Thomas chased Ms O'Hara as she fled "screaming, terrified and crying" into the salon, where he stabbed her twice in the chest with a large kitchen knife.

The 44-year-old also suffered wounds to her hands where she had tried to protect herself.

Stuart Thomas, 49, an
Stuart Thomas, 49, an "obsessive and controlling" married man who has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years for the murder of his hairdresser ex-girlfriend Credit: Dorset Police/PA Wire

Police followed a trail of blood and found Thomas, who had cut his wrists with the same knife, the court heard.

He was found guilty of murder following a 14-day trial last month.

Mr Lickley said Ms O'Hara had reported Thomas, a father-of-four, to police just before New Year's Eve after he repeatedly confronted her and sent her "many messages" pleading for her to take him back.

The 49-year-old, who also goes by the name of George, was arrested on suspicion of harassment but was released by police on bail pending further inquiries and on condition that he did not contact Ms O'Hara.

Mr Lickley said: "Those closest to her knew in the last few weeks of her life she had become very anxious and fearful, she had become scared of her former boyfriend, the defendant, who was at the time a married man with four children, and in particular of his increasingly obsessive and frightening behaviour."

Mr Lickley said the pair had become romantically involved in May 2015 but by the autumn Ms O'Hara had attempted to end the relationship because she did not want to have an affair with a married man.

He said the defendant would repeatedly persuade Ms O'Hara to take him back by threatening to kill himself.

Detective Inspector Richard Dixey, of Dorset Police, said: "I am satisfied with the sentence handed down by the courts and my thoughts continue to be with the family of Katrina. I hope that the sentence handed out today offers them some closure after such a horrific event.

"Stuart Thomas was an abusive and controlling man who would not accept that his relationship with Katrina was over. He sought to use harassment, violence, threats and emotional blackmail to control her behaviour, ultimately leading to her being stabbed to death."

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