Campaigner Una fears release of Rosscarbery man this year

February 20th, 2024 10:00 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Una Ring says she will be a ‘wreck’ when Steele comes out of prison.

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THE Youghal woman who was stalked by Rosscarbery man James Steele has said she will be a ‘wreck’ after his release – possibly this April.

Una Ring suffered months of stalking and intimidation at the hands of former work colleague Steele, until he was eventually arrested outside her home while gardaí were watching the house in 2020.

He was attempting to break into Una’s home, armed with a rope, a crowbar, sex toy, and duct tape.

Speaking on Virgin Media’s documentary, Stalked last Monday night, Una told her story, along with fellow campaigner Eve McDowell and Irish photographer Jarlath Rice.

All three told harrowing stories of their lives having been dramatically changed at the hands of stalkers.

In 2021 James Steele of Reavilleen, Rosscarbery, pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to offences including harassment, criminal damage and attempted trespass, with the intent to commit rape, at the home of Una Ring in Youghal between February 14th 2020 and July 27th 2020.

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin sentenced Steele to seven years in jail, but suspended the final two years for a period of five years, on condition he remain under the supervision of the Probation Service.

He also ordered him to have no contact with Ms Ring or her family, either directly or indirectly, ever again.

‘I will be a wreck,’ said Una in the documentary, referring to Steele’s likely release in the coming months.

Her sister Eithne added: ‘I think that when he gets his freedom, Una will lose some of hers.’

‘I know he will be on five years’ probation and he will be monitored very closely,’ Una pointed out, ‘but five years will pass, and that probation period will be over.’

She said that between now and his release she is going to enjoy herself, but admitted that her life has completely changed.

‘I find it very hard to leave the house. On a bad day, I won’t go out. I don’t feel safe anywhere. It’s a way of life for me now.’

After their horrific ordeals, both Una Ring and Eve McDowell became activists, calling for stalking-specific legislation, which was finally enacted last November.

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