Una Ring, stalking survivor: New 10-year sentence not strong enough

A woman who suffered months of harassment and intimidation says a new 10-year sentence for the offense is not enough.

Cork woman Una Ring saw her stalker sentenced to seven years in prison, two of which were suspended for a six-month campaign of terrifying harassment.

James Steele pleaded guilty to a range of offenses including harassment, criminal damage and attempted trespassing with intent to commit rape.

On Newstalk breakfast this morning Mrs Ring said she feared for her life, she was considering getting a tattoo of her name, address and date of birth.

She was speaking after the Cabinet approved new legislation making stalking a criminal offense which carries a maximum sentence of ten years.

The new laws will also make it easier for people to take restraining orders against people they are unrelated to or unrelated to.

Ms Ring said the new restraining orders could have kept her safe and saved her a lot of heartache; however, the ten-year sentence is not strong enough.

“You know, it’s usually about a third of the sentence that they end up serving,” she said. “So if they get ten, they’ll probably be out in three or four.”

“Personally, I would prefer it to be heavier because the heavier the sentence, the longer they will serve. They will never serve full time.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee with activists Una Ring and Eve McDowell and Senator Fianna Fail Lisa Chambers at the launch of a new bill making stalking and non-fatal strangulation standalone offences, 21-04 -2022. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

She said she spent her entire ordeal running on adrenaline and looking over her shoulder.

“You can’t relax at home; you can’t relax when you’re in the car. You see him constantly even when he is not there.

“It costs a lot. Two years later, I still haven’t recovered.

Hunt down

She said she first met Steele as a colleague at her workplace – and the harassment started after she rejected his sexual advances.

“It started with the paint on my car wheels and then there was a sexually explicit letter left on my windshield,” she said.

“My windows were spray painted with Xs and O’s and the words ‘I win’ were spray painted on my windowsill

“Then a second letter was left with an explicit threat to break into my house and rape me and my daughter.”


She said Steele was eventually caught trying to break into her home after Gardaí set up a surveillance operation.

“He had a crowbar, rope, duct tape and he had a sex device attached to himself that he was going to sue to rape me and my daughter with,” she said.

“He was arrested on the spot and he was sentenced to … it started at nine, he got two years younger for his guilty plea, so it went down to seven years, then he got two years of reprieve, so he ended up getting five years. for that.”

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She said the fear and paranoia during her ordeal was “completely overwhelming”.

“It completely takes over your life because it’s 24/7, you’re constantly looking for the person,” she said.

“There was also an internet search for chloroform on his computer so I was in grave danger and the fact is he could have taken me away.

“I was going to get his name, birth date and Youghal written on it in case he managed to kidnap me.

“If I had known about the chloroform, I would have.”

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