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Ex-boyfriend to serve life with a minimum of 26 years for murdering Molly McLaren

An ex-boyfriend who stabbed his former partner to death in a merciless and pre-planned attack in a shopping centre car park in Chatham has been found guilty of murder.

Joshua Stimpson was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 26 years before being considered for parole.

The 26-year-old attacked Molly McLaren, 23, stabbing her more than 75 times and causing significant injuries to her face, neck and arms as she sat in her car on Thursday 29 June 2017.

Stimpson, of Wouldham High Street in Rochester, admitted killing Miss McLaren but denied murder, claiming he was suffering from diminished responsibility and could not remember the incident or the two weeks prior.

The case was investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

In the days before Molly's death, Stimpson was witnessed on CCTV buying the murder weapon – a four inch knife – and attending the same bar as her.

On the day of the murder, footage was shown of Stimpson attending the same gym as Miss McLaren and setting up an exercise mat beside her.
He left shortly before 11am, and Molly sent a message to her friends saying: ‘Feel like I’m… looking over my shoulder all the time.’

Stimpson waited in his car and watched the entrance of the gym until she entered the car park.

He pulled near to her vehicle as she prepared to drive home, exited with the engine still running, approached her car, pulled the door open and lunged at her with the knife.

Emergency services attended within minutes and tried desperately to save Molly’s life, however she had suffered injuries she could not have survived from and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dozens witnessed the attack with one man trying to intervene by shouting, hitting the bonnet of the car, and pulling at Stimpson’s leg.

Officers attended and arrested Stimpson. A box cutter and a pickaxe were found in his car.

A jury found Stimpson guilty of murder on Tuesday 6 February following a two-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court. He was sentenced the same afternoon.

Senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Ali Worton said: ‘Molly was a popular and ambitious young woman with her whole life ahead of her but this was stolen by Stimpson in the most brutal way imaginable.

‘He has proven to be an extremely dangerous individual and needs to spend a lengthy period of time in prison where he can cause no further harm to innocent people.

‘It was clear to the jury and us that Molly’s death was pre-planned and that Stimpson is a cold and calculated killer rather than somebody who does not have the mental capacity to control himself.

‘By denying murder and failing to accept responsibility for his actions, he forced Molly’s family and friends to suffer even further distress through the tough ordeal of a crown court trial.

‘I would like to pay tribute to Molly’s family for the strength and dignity they have shown throughout and I hope this result is of some comfort.

‘I would also like to thank the police officers and ambulance staff who attended the scene of Molly’s death and fought valiantly to save her. They face difficult situations on a daily basis but this was one that will certainly live long in the memory and I am keen that their efforts are recognised.

'Finally I would like to express thanks and recognise the courage of the members of public who tried desperately to stop the attack on Molly.'

A statement from Molly’s family said: ‘The last six months have been horrid beyond belief.
'We couldn’t have got through it without the love and support of family and friends.

'The number of Molly’s friends has staggered us, the like of which we have never known.  Those that have visited and shared in our pain have been a great help.

'We would like to thank Kent Police for their diligence collecting and collating the evidence. We would also like to thank the prosecution team for expediting the due process of the law.

'The full extent of the digital stalking of Molly by Joshua Stimpson may never be known.
'We would like to thank Benjamin Moreton for his brave efforts at the carpark when he tried to intervene, and hope one day to thank him personally.

'The contrast in morality between these two people could not be more profound.

'However, in light of this case, we feel that there needs to be more awareness over the dangers of stalking and the need for people to report any concerns over stalking to the police.

'The verdict has brought us a small measure of comfort, but it seems that nothing will take away the pain or allow us to come to terms with our Molly being taken from us.  We are serving a lifetime of pain, anguish and loss.

'This has affected so many people’s lives and our hearts go out to each and every one of you.
'Our focus now turns to making sure Molly will live on through The Molly McLaren Foundation, helping people with eating disorders.

'Thank you all for your ongoing support with this.

'A light has gone out in all of our hearts but shines bright as a star forever glowing.

'We love you Molly.'

Photos (clockwise from below) - Molly's car following the attack; The knife used to attack Molly; CCTV of Stimpson purchasing the weapon; The pickaxe found in Stimpson's car; Another knife found in Stimpson's car.

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