Stuart Thomas found guilty of the murder of Katrina O'Hara

29/07/2016

Stuart Thomas, 49, from Blandford, was today convicted at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of Katrina O'Hara, 44, who was found stabbed to death at Jock's Barbers in Blandford on the 7 January 2016.

Following the conviction, John Montague, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex said: "It is a tragic case. The victim, Katrina O'Hara tried desperately to put a stop to the controlling relationship Stuart Thomas began with her in May 2015.

"Stuart Thomas was married and had led her to believe that he and his wife were separated. Ms O'Hara had been very clear in stating that she did not want an affair. When she realised that his marriage was far from over she decided to end the relationship. Stuart Thomas became spiteful and abusive towards her.

"He frightened her on several occasions by breaking into her house. He threatened to kill her and take his own life. He sent hundreds of text messages, posted abusive messages on Facebook and pleaded for her to take him back vowing that he would move out and finally end his marriage.

"Sadly, a pattern soon emerged of Ms O'Hara attempting to break things off, only to be persuaded by these threats and promises to go back to him".

Following a spate of frightening incidents after Ms O'Hara finally broke off their relationship on Christmas Eve 2015, Ms O'Hara decided that Stuart Thomas' behaviour had gone too far. She reported him to the police.

Stuart Thomas was arrested on 30 December 2015 for harassment. He was released on police bail with a condition not to contact Ms O'Hara.

Mr Montague said: "Despite knowing that he should not get in touch with Ms O'Hara, Stuart Thomas went to her place of work with a large kitchen knife and the clear intention to attack and seriously harm her.

"As was her habit, Ms O'Hara went outside the front of the barbers' shop for a cigarette as the shop was closing. Mr Thomas had been waiting for her out of sight by her car and he approached her grabbing her arm from behind. Ms O'Hara knew that she was in danger and ran into the shop to escape her attacker. Stuart Thomas chased after her and she died after he stabbed her twice in the chest. Knife injuries to her hands and to her knee showed where she sought to protect herself from the attack.

"He then fled the scene and was found by the police a short distance away some minutes later. He had cut his left wrist using the same knife he had used to murder Katrina O'Hara.

"The CPS takes violence by abusive partners very seriously. There is now legislation on controlling and coercive behaviour and we urge anyone who thinks that they have been a victim of such a crime to contact the police.

"Our thoughts are with Katrina O'Hara's family and friends. We hope that todays conviction brings some justice and closure for them".