Karen Laing has lost an appeal to have her sentence reduced.
A serial Tinder stalker who was jailed after messaging a man almost 300 times, including threatening to murder him and his family, has lost an appeal to have her sentence reduced.
Karen Laing was sentenced in May in the Dunedin District Court after admitting two charges of threatening to kill and one charge of criminal harassment.
Judge Kevin Phillips sentenced her to two years and three months’ prison, but she appealed that sentence on the grounds the starting points were excessive, and that he did not give enough credit for her Asperger’s Syndrome.
Her legal counsel appealed the sentence in the High Court of Dunedin in July.
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Laing went on a single date with a man after matching on the dating app, Tinder, in 2016.
The man declined to see Laing again after that date, and she began to harass and threaten him and his mother.
That led to charges, most recently in 2018. She was subject to release conditions, including not to possess or use an internet-capable device, or contact her victims.
But between December 2, 2018 and March 8, 2019, Laing sent 297 unsolicited messages to the victim’s Facebook account, telephoned his workplace and left threatening and aggressive messages, which led to the charge of criminal harassment.
She threatened to murder the man, including a message that said “… 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”.
She also sent 13 messages to his mother, which included threats to murder her “stupid family”.
Judge Phillips considered the impact on her victims, and was satisfied the offending was premeditated.
He considered a report confirming she had Autism Spectrum Disorder but was articulate and fully aware of the charges and their consequences.
That report, along with the pre-sentence report, stated Laing considered she had been wronged by the victim and felt her punishment was excessive.
Phillips found the offending to be serious, towards the top end of offending for both the harassment and threatening to kill charges. Aggravating features included repeated threats of violence, offending while on bail and subject to sentence, the harm caused to the victims and premeditation.
Phillips adopted a starting point of two and a half years.
He noted her conviction history was ”appalling’’, giving a three-month uplift to her sentence, and another two months for offending on bail.
Laing was given a 15 per cent reduction for her medical condition, and another 15 per cent for her late guilty plea.
Laing’s counsel submitted the threatening to kill offending was more a “flow of consciousness”, and not a specific threat.
He also submitted an appropriate starting point for the two charges of threatening to kill in the present case would be 12 months and said the harassment charge should not have been considered separately.
Justice Gerald Nation said in a decision released last week the sentencing judge correctly identified the aggravating features of the offending.
While none of the threats were made in person, Laing had sent many messages over an extended period.
The judge made no error in the starting point, or discounts given to Laing, he said.
Justice Nation arrived at an end sentence between two years three months and two years six months.
‘’Given the sentence imposed was two years and three months, it therefore cannot be said that sentence was manifestly excessive.”
The appeal was dismissed.