Trial of accomplices to female serial killer

Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Dennehy - Credit: Archant

Serial killer Joanna Dennehy stabbed three men in the heart in a 10-day spree of violence, the trial of her two alleged accomplices, from Peterborough, has heard.

Gary Stretch

Gary Stretch - Credit: Archant

Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing to death three men and dumping their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire.

After the killings she drove to Hereford where she selected two other men at random and stabbed them in the street, Cambridge Crown Court heard. Both men survived.

Until now little explanation of how or why Dennehy carried out the killings has been given in court.

As the trial of Gary Stretch and Leslie Layton, accused of helping her, began, prosecutor Peter Wright QC said both men helped Dennehy in her bid to cover up the “terrible truth” of the murders.

He added: “These men came under the spell of Joanna Dennehy.”

The bodies of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, were found dumped in ditches in Cambridgeshire in March and April last year.

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Mr Wright said: “The first to die, Lukasz Slaboszewski, was befriended by Dennehy and lured to his death at a property she had access to. His body was left in a green wheelie bin for some time until she moved it to a ditch on farmland nearby.”

It is alleged that Stretch helped her move the body after the killing which happened between March 19 and 29, he added.

The second victim, John Chapman, was stabbed to death in a bedsit in Orton Goldhay, on March 29 before being dumped alongside the body of Mr Slaboszewski.

The final victim was Kevin Lee, a businessman who ran a property letting firm and was having an affair with Dennehy, Mr Wright said. He was killed on the same day as Mr Chapman.

“She murdered him by stabbing him to death,” Mr Wright said.

Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, pleaded guilty to the murders at the Old Bailey in November and is in custody awaiting sentencing.

She also admitted preventing the lawful and decent burial of all three victims and two charges of attempting to murder Robin Bereza and John Rogers in Hereford in April.

Stretch, real name Gary Richards, 47, of Riseholme, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, has denied three charges of preventing the lawful burial of all three men and two counts of attempted murder.

Standing at 7ft 3in, Stretch sat in the dock wearing a blue t-shirt and a crucifix necklace and hung his head throughout proceedings.

Layton, 36, of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, has denied perverting the course of justice. He denies two counts of preventing the lawful burial of the bodies of Mr Chapman and Mr Lee.

A third man, Robert Moore, 55, of Belvoir Way, Peterborough, has admitted assisting an offender and is also awaiting sentence.

Mr Wright added that Dennehy and Stretch drove across the country seeking out further victims on April 2.

“Not satisfied with murdering three men in the east of the country, Joanna Dennehy and Gary Stretch set off by vehicle and made their way to Hereford,” he said.

“There they together committed further acts of serious violence against two entire strangers who just happened to come across their path.”

After driving around Hereford searching for victims, Dennehy selected Mr Bereza and Mr Rogers before repeatedly stabbing them, Mr Wright said.

He added: “They were people they had never met who just happened to be on the street at the time.

“Joanna Dennehy got out of the vehicle while Gary Stretch waited. Both men were left for dead.”

He added that Dennehy and Stretch were “acting as a couple, they were a team”.

Mr Wright said: “Joanna Dennehy may have been the killer but Gary Stretch was able to act as her willing accomplice in disposing of their bodies and was comfortable in her company. He had every opportunity to leave but he chose to participate.”

Mr Wright said that Layton had also be a willing participant who took steps to distance Dennehy from responsibility for the murders.

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