A dog walker has told a court of his desperate attempt to stop a student’s ex-boyfriend killing her as he knifed her 75 times in a gym car park.
Molly McLaren, 23, died after Joshua Stimpson, 25, followed her to a gym in Chatham, Kent, laying in wait, before launching a horrific attack as she sat in the front seat of her car on June 29 last year.
Miss McLaren had become increasingly concerned about her ex’s behaviour after they broke up on June 17 last year and told her friends ‘I feel like I’m looking over my shoulder all the time’ before she died.
Today his trial at Maidstone Crown Court heard from Benjamin Morton, who had dropped his wife off at a nearby cinema and started walking his dog before he heard a ‘commotion’.
As the terrifying attack unfolded he banged on the window of the victim’s Citroen C1 in the hope of distracting the defendant.
Molly McLaren (pictured right), 23, died after Joshua Stimpson (left) followed her to a gym in Chatham, Kent, laying in wait, before launching a horrific attack as she sat in the front seat of her car
He also tried slamming the door on his leg and grabbing it with his bare hands, but the blood from the nightmare scene meant they slipped off, he said.
Giving evidence today, he told the jury Stimpson seemed ‘determined to overwhelm’ and kill Miss McLaren, who he met on Tinder, as she tried to protect herself from the knife.
He had just dropped his wife at the Odeon cinema at the Chatham Dockside shopping outlet and was beginning to walk his dog when he became aware of ‘a commotion’ in a nearby parked car.
He initially thought a man and woman were fighting and moved closer. Mr Morton then described how the horrific attack unfolded before his eyes.
He said: ‘I stepped forward and could see it wasn’t just a fight, that the woman seemed to be being attacked by the man.
‘He seemed to have something in his hand and she was at that point resisting.
Molly McLaren’s parents Joanne and Doug are pictured left outside Stimpson’s trial at Maidstone Crown Court. Benjamin Morton (right) told a court of his desperate attempt to stop Stimpson
‘He looked to be trying to overwhelm her, to attack her in some way. She was trying to defend herself.
‘He was clearly attacking her and she had her hands up to try and stop him.
‘I gave my dog to someone as I still had him in my hand. Then I moved forward to the car where I could see that the man was attacking her with a knife or some kind of implement.
‘It was quite small, not a big thing, but I could see he was stabbing her with it.
‘There was already blood inside the car and when I got right in front of the car I could see that he was stabbing her towards her neck and her head.
‘She was trying to defend herself. It is not something I have ever seen and hopefully never will (again).’
After following her to the gym in Chatham, Stimpson lay in wait for Miss McLaren before repeatedly stabbing her in the front seat of her car (pictured)
Miss McLaren, of Cobham, Surrey, was studying sport at university and had been working out at the gym before she was attacked.
In the run-up to the killing, Stimpson had started posting slurs about her using drugs on Facebook, tagging her relatives so they would read his lies.
The abuse continued even after she complained to police on June 22 and wrote a letter of complaint to bosses at Facebook.
Prosecutors claim Stimpson was watching her social media posts in order to pinpoint her location and stalk her.
In messages to a relative, Miss McLaren said he was ‘manipulative and turning nasty’, adding: ‘I am actually scared about what he might do. I’m scared he might hurt me. I don’t know how on edge he is.’
Today his trial at Maidstone Crown Court heard from Benjamin Morton, who had dropped his wife off at a nearby cinema and started walking his dog before he heard a ‘commotion’ in the car park (pictured)
As the terrifying attack unfolded (crime scene pictured) he banged on the window of the victim’s Citroen C1 in the hope of distracting the defendant
Mr Morton told jurors he shouted ‘Stop killing her, stop f***ing killing her’ as Stimpson continued with the frenzied attack.
He said: ‘To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. I shouted at people to say he was killing her and to call the police.
‘I banged on the window of the car. I thought it might distract him. I was banging on the bonnet of the car and in that area.
‘I was hoping the police might arrive or someone with an idea of what to do.
‘It’s not something you would expect to find in a car park.
‘I shouted ‘He is killing her’. I was shouting ‘Stop killing her, stop f***ing killing her’.
‘The attack just carried on. She was still trying to protect herself but it was obvious she was getting weaker.
‘He was trying to cut her throat. He seemed to be slashing, cutting at her neck.
‘No one else was coming so I thought I had to try and so something. I moved around to the driver’s side where he was sitting, leaning across attacking her.
‘I could see his leg was sticking out the door. I tried to slam the door on his leg to distract him, to stop him.
Giving evidence today, he told the jury Stimpson seemed ‘determined to overwhelm’ and kill Miss McLaren (pictured), who he met on Tinder, as she tried to protect herself from the knife
‘I slammed the door on his leg and he noticed because he moved his leg inside the car. But then he just carried on.’
In a second bid to get him to stop, Mr Morton grabbed Stimpson’s leg with his bare hands, he told the jury.
He continued: ‘The door hadn’t shut because his leg was in the way so I moved around and I grabbed his leg to see if I could pull him.
‘His leg was covered in blood and my hands slipped off. At that point I stepped back and didn’t know what else I could do.’
Tragically he began to see the extent of Miss McLaren’s injuries and quickly realised she was not going to make it.
He added: ‘I looked inside the car and I could see that she had her throat cut. He seemed determined to make sure she was dead.
‘He wasn’t stabbing her, he was cutting at her throat at this point, just to make sure she would never come back.
‘I looked at her and I thought ‘I don’t think there is anything else I can do. She isn’t going to survive this.’
He continued: ‘I thought she might be dead already so I thought I would stop him at least getting away.
‘I thought it was his car so I ran and got my car and drove it and parked it in front of his to block him being able to drive away.
‘He was still in the car. I moved back just to watch and at some point he stopped, got out of the car and I was just watching in case he tried to get away.
‘He didn’t. He just stayed there beside the car.’
Miss McLaren (pictured) had become worried about her ex’s behaviour and had told friends ‘I feel like I’m looking over my shoulder all the time’
The police then arrived and arrested Stimpson, the court heard.
Yesterday the hearing was played chilling CCTV footage of the moments before and after Miss McLaren’s death.
In the clip Stimpson is seen prowling around in the staircase of the fitness centre, before entering the exercise room where she is working out.
Miss McLaren is seen appearing to speak to him, and the court has heard she asked him: ‘Are you following me now?’
Eight minutes later she was dead.
Today Mr Morton spoke of his distress at witnessing the blood bath.
He continued: ‘I was extremely upset and in tears at that time. I sat down and had blood on my hands where I had tried to grab him and the dog was trying to lick the blood.
‘The police came over to help me wash my hands.’
During cross-examination by Oliver Saxby QC, defending Stimpson, the court heard Mr Morton later told officers in his statement that Stimpson ‘looked vacant’.
The have-a-go-hero added: ‘He wasn’t looking at anything or anyone. He didn’t look as if he had any thought in his mind.’
Molly McLaren suffered at least 75 knife wounds and her throat was completely cut through, a pathologist said.
Dr Olaf Biedrzycki told the court she would have lost consciousness within seconds of this particular injury and nothing could have been done to save her.
The slicing motion used to inflict it left a gaping wound that ‘severed everything’, he explained, including jugular veins at the sides of her neck and major arteries.
‘Once this had been inflicted there was no medical intervention that would have made a difference,’ he added.
The knife, covered in blood, which was seized from the scene of Miss McLaren’s murder
‘It not only severed the neck, there was sharp force damage to the front part of the bone in the neck and severe force has been used to cause this injury.’
Cause of death was given as sharp force wounds to the neck.
Dr Biedrzycki said: ‘This is a case of a sustained and prolonged sharp force trauma attack concentrating on the neck, lower face, upper chest and lower chest.
‘She was covered in sharp force wounds, a mix of stab and incised wounds.’
Stimpson grimaced in the dock and began to cry when the number of injuries was revealed.
But Dr Biedrzycki said some areas of her body where she was stabbed had multiple injuries within them and it was therefore impossible to examine and list them all.
Molly also suffered defensive injuries to her arms as she desperately tried to fight off Stimpson, beeping her horn and screaming for help, the court heard.
The frenzied attack was re-lived by several witnesses during day four of the murder trial as Molly’s family cried in the public gallery.
One witness described how she saw Molly raise her legs as if trying to kick Stimpson (pictured) off, while another told how he ‘violently and aggressively’ carried out his onslaught
One described how she saw Miss McLaren raise her legs as if trying to kick Stimpson off, while another told how he ‘violently and aggressively’ carried out his onslaught.
Marion Aldridge was returning to her car when she heard a woman screaming and shouting ‘Get off me, get off me, help’.
The car horn then started sounding.
Ms Aldridge saw Stimpson in the driver’s seat with the door open and thought he was punching her.
She told police: ‘I initially thought he was beating her. I could see her raise her legs like she was trying to kick him off her.
‘He struck out three to four times. She was shouting out. A man with a dog went over and started banging on the bonnet.
‘He was saying “He is stabbing her” and Call the police’. The man (Stimpson) was a doing a stabbing motion towards the girl and I could see he was holding a knife.
‘I saw him do this three to four times and that’s when the girl went quiet and I didn’t hear her scream anymore.’
Kodie Jarvis was visibly upset as she gave evidence about the horrific attack and she later mouthed ‘Sorry’ to the McLaren family as she left court.
Miss McLaren (pictured), of Cobham, Surrey, was studying sport at university and had been working out at the gym before she was attacked
She had reversed into a parking space and looked in her rear view mirror to see Miss McLaren getting in her Citroen.
Ms Jarvis then noticed a Peugeot pull up in front of her Kia and Stimpson got out, leaving the engine running, and begin to look around.
He then walked quickly to Miss McLaren’s car.
‘He yanked it open and lunged at her. I thought he was grabbing at her throat. She was screaming and the horn honked a few times, but she didn’t scream for very long,’ she said.
She then started crying as she described Stimpson leaning into the car with just his legs outside it.
Ms Jarvis said she could no longer see the victim, but saw a man with his dog kicking the car, shouting ‘Call the police’ and ‘Get off her’.
Stimpson, she told police, was still in the car, and later described him to police as being violent and aggressive.
‘I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing but you could see he was over the top of her doing something,’ Ms Jarvis told the jury.
‘I could see the top half of his body moving and doing something with his right hand.’
The couple split two weeks before the stabbing. McLaren feared Stimpson was following her
As Ms Jarvis phoned the police she saw Stimpson leave the car and pace up and down, putting his hands to his head.
Ali Hassaina also saw Stimpson leaning into the driver’s side of the Citroen, with his feet on the ground.
He was continuously raising and dropping his arm with a clenched fist.
Mr Hassain looked through the front passenger window and saw Miss McLaren laying across the front seat and console with her head slightly touching the door, bleeding heavily from her neck.
He never saw a knife but told the jury Stimpson’s hand had been thrusting back and forth towards Miss McLaren’s neck several times.
‘He didn’t say a word. He just started walking out the car, leant against another and started to wipe his hands on his T-shirt,’ he said.
‘I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and backed away.’
Glenys McMater told police she was alerted by a man shouting for help and bouncing on the car in desperation.
She later looked in the vehicle to see the 23-year-old slumped in the seat, motionless.
Stimpson, said Ms McMater, was next to the car, covered in blood, calm and with his hands ‘casually’ in front of him.
‘It was like it wasn’t real, like a stunt. I couldn’t understand how something like that could happen,’ she added.
An off-duty police officer, alerted by shouts and banging, initially thought someone was trying to steal a car.
But she then spotted Stimpson in the Citroen, gripping a blade in his hand and repeatedly making a stabbing motion.
She also described Stimpson as being ‘totally focused and calm’, and noticed him wiping the blade on his hand once out of the car.
Stimpson, of Wouldham near Rochester, Kent, denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The trial continues.
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