IN SEPTEMBER last year, a young Ballarat single mum joined an internet dating site in the hopes of finding love.
Sharon Siermans had met a couple of potential suitors for coffee, including Jason Dinsley.
Via internet messages, Dinsley told Sharon, a mother of a four-year-old boy, he hadn’t been in a relationship for seven years since the death of his fiance in a car crash.
He swooned her with text messages until Sharon finally agreed to meet him.
She picked him up at the Ballarat Railway Station, but instantly felt uneasy. Dinsley was dirty. His hair was messy. His clothes were a mess and he was missing teeth.
Despite her initial unease, Sharon felt sorry for Dinsley.
But instead of taking him to a Chinese restaurant as first agreed, she fatefully took Dinsley back to her Doveton Street South address for coffee.
Soon after the date began, an unnerving feeling overwhelmed Sharon to the point where she secretly phoned a friend, pleading with her to make a fake phone call claiming Sharon’s son was sick.
Sharon then drove Dinsley back to the railway station and hoped she would never see him again.
However, it wasn’t the last she would see of Dinsley.
Five weeks before her murder in April, Sharon noticed louvres were missing from a window of her Doveton Street South home and cigarette butts were strewn around.
Then the death threats via text messages began on her mobile phone.
Investigations have since revealed Dinsley was stalking Sharon before he murdered her in April this year.
Sharon’s parents John and Denise Siermans knew their daughter was using an internet dating service, but were unaware of how fearful she was of Dinsley.
“Sharon was nearly 30 ... not all people in their 20s tell their parents what’s happening in their lives. But, God, I wish she had,” Mrs Siermans said.
Sharon’s family and friends now plan to establish a foundation to honour her memory and educate the community about a number of issues, particularly violence against women and the possible dangers of looking for love on internet dating sites.
“We need to get information out there about the dangers of internet dating,” Mr Siermans said.
“There are also dangers for young teenagers getting on the internet, because in some cases, they really don’t know who they’re talking to (online).”