The demeanour of a hairdresser allegedly murdered by her former lover changed from a “feisty Scot” to a timid elderly person in the space of just a few weeks, a court heard.
Stuart Thomas, 49, is accused of fatally stabbing 44-year-old Katrina O’Hara, from Bangour, West Lothian, twice in the chest as she finished work – just a week after he was arrested and bailed for harassing her.
Acting police sergeant Adam Aggas, of Dorset Police, first met Miss O’Hara when he was called to a domestic incident between the mother-of-three and Thomas, a married father-of-four.
He said on November 10 last year Miss O’Hara was a “feisty Scot” and a strong, confident woman.
But just the following month on December 30, Pc Aggas said Miss O’Hara was unrecognisable, describing her as scared and cautious.
Police were called by one of Miss O’Hara’s sons on December 30 to report Thomas’ harassment of his mother.
Pc Aggas said: “She opened the door a small crack as you would expect an elderly member of the community would. She was peeking out to see who was outside, she was extremely cautious. She invited me in, sat down and instantly started crying. She started to tell me of the abuse she had been suffering at the hands of Mr Thomas.
“She was talking quickly. In my view it was an outpouring of things she had been bottling up for a long time. She said she was now afraid to be on her own.
“On two occasions she said Mr Thomas had let himself in to her house uninvited, and on one of those he had climbed through an open window.
“She told me there had been threats from Mr Thomas to commit suicide. Mr Thomas had said that he would kill himself and everyone would blame her for it.”
Winchester Crown Court heard Miss O’Hara was reluctant to give a statement to police because of Thomas’ threats.
A month earlier, on November 10, Pc Aggas was called to an ongoing domestic incident in Dorset, where Thomas had a unit for his work as a builder.
The court heard Pc Aggas filled out a domestic violence assessment – used nationwide to help ascertain risk for domestic violence victims – for Miss O’Hara.
A few days after the incident, Thomas made a police complaint against Miss O’Hara for common assault and criminal damage but later called police again to retract his statement.
Reading from Pc Aggas’ statement at the time, William Mousely QC, defending, said: “CCTV captured from Thomas’ industrial unit showed O’Hara turning up to the location and started to argue with Thomas in the main room of the unit.
“Thomas almost immediately leaves the area and goes in to a side office and leaves O’Hara in the main room. She is seen throwing items.
“He comes out and has to physically restrain O’Hara who is acting in an angry way. She is then seen to leave the unit.”
Miss O’Hara’s body was found at the back of Jock’s Barbers in Blandford Forum, Dorset, on January 7. Thomas denies murder and the trial continues.