Natasha Rudra April 18, 2012
A court has been told the only way to protect the Canberra community from a serial stalker is to keep him behind bars.
Queanbeyan man Ian Murray has already spent nearly 17 months in custody on charges of breaching protection orders. But yesterday the ACT Supreme Court heard he should remain in jail.
Murray, 47, told his victim her late husband was a ''filthy junkie'' and threatened to smash the dead man's gravestone if the woman continued to hang up on his phone calls.
He also called the woman repeatedly, on one occasion inviting her and her daughter to a kickboxing match, and brought a 1.5-metre garden edging tool to her house.
The pair had a brief relationship that ended in 2010.
Murray pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching protection orders in March, eight weeks before a scheduled trial.
The court heard that Murray's criminal history included at least 15 convictions for stalking and breaching protection orders in NSW and Victoria, and he served jail time in Goulburn.
His barrister, Theresa Warwick, told the court that the current offences were at the lower end of the scale and Murray had already served a very long time in custody.
Ms Warwick said Murray had been confused and surprised when his ex took out a protection order against him and called to discuss the end of the relationship.
She said there was no suggestion of physical violence and Murray, a former scaffolder, had never contacted the woman in the intervening 17 months.
''There's no sense now that there [are] any words that he wishes to say.
''He does accept that the relationship is over,'' she said.
But Crown prosecutor Alyn Doig told the court that Murray was not being sentenced ''for his confusion and surprise'' but for repeated breach of court orders.
Ms Warwick told the court that a victim impact statement tendered in court contained allegations that Murray had pestered his ex with text messages and mail, allegations which were not the subject of any criminal charges.
But Mr Doig said the allegations provided an important context for Murray's offending.
''The emotional ramifications of unwanted phone calls are writ big in the lives of victims and we ought not to forget that,'' he said.
Ms Warwick told the court that Murray was willing to undergo court-ordered programs and there was little risk of him trying to contact his ex.
She argued Murray had served sufficient time in custody and should be released on parole or a suspended sentence.
Mr Doig argued the sentence should include more jail time.
Justice Penfold will hand down her sentence next week.