Peterborough ditch murders

The Peterborough ditch murders were a series of serial murders which took place in Cambridgeshire, England, in March 2013. All three victims were male and died from stab wounds. Their bodies were discovered dumped in ditches outside Peterborough. In Hereford, two other men were stabbed, but survived. The perpetrator was Joanne Christine Dennehy, a Cambridgeshire woman, who was later sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.

VictimsEdit

Kevin Lee was a property developer, landlord and lover of Dennehy.[1][2] He was killed on 29 March 2013, and his body found the next day near Newborough.[3] Dennehy dressed Lee's body in a black sequined dress before dumping his corpse.[4] Lukasz Slaboszewski met Dennehy through a shared interest in drink and drugs, and John Chapman was a housemate of Dennehy.[1] Slaboszewski, a Polish national, was killed on 19 March, and Chapman on 29 March.[3] They were both found on 3 April near Thorney with stab wounds.[5]

After the killings, Dennehy was driven by an accomplice, Gary Stretch,[6] to Hereford where she stabbed two men, chosen separately and at random, both of whom survived.[7] Both men were dog walkers; she stole the second's dog.[6] Another man travelling in the car, unwillingly, was later cleared of criminal involvement in the attacks.[6]

Victim selection and motivesEdit

Dennehy, a 30-year-old absent mother of two young children at the time of the killings, specifically targeted men during her killing spree, telling her acquaintance Lloyd that she did not wish to kill a woman and especially not a woman with children. Mark Lloyd stated Dennehy had wanted to kill nine men in total, seeking to be like Bonnie and Clyde.[8] Dennehy stabbed men for the purpose of "entertainment", telling Gary Stretch, "I want my fun. I need you to get my fun." She later told a psychiatrist that she had found murder to be "moreish" and that after the first killing she "got a taste for it."[2][9]

Court proceedingsEdit

In November 2013, Dennehy pleaded guilty to all three murders and two further attempted murders.[10][11] Her sister Maria was unsurprised by the guilty plea and said, "I think she did that to control the situation. She likes people to know she's the boss."[12] Dennehy has been held at HM Prison Bronzefield.[13] Assessing psychiatrists later diagnosed Dennehy with psychopathic, anti-social and borderline personality disorders.[14]

Two men, Gary Stretch (formerly known as Gary Richards), 47, and Leslie Layton, 36, stood trial charged with a range of crimes assisting Dennehy. Both decided not to give evidence or face cross-examination.[15] The jury began considering their verdicts on 4 February 2014.[16][17] On 10 February, Richards was found guilty of attempted murder and Layton was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.[18][19] On 12 February, Layton and Richards were convicted of all other charges.[20][21][22]

On 28 February 2014, at the Old Bailey, Dennehy was sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge, Mr Justice Spencer, recommended that she should never be released due to the premeditation of each murder. Spencer said further that Dennehy was sadomasochistic, and lacked the normal range of human emotions.[23] Dennehy is believed to be one of just three women in the United Kingdom to be given life imprisonment without parole, after Myra Hindley and Rosemary West.[24]

Richards was also sentenced at the Old Bailey alongside Dennehy to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 19 years. Layton was sentenced to a total of 14 years, and Robert Moore, 55, who admitted to assisting an offender, received a three-year prison sentence.[25][26][27]

After the trialEdit

After the trial it emerged that the Probation Service was supervising Dennehy at the time of the murders as she had been convicted of assault and owning a dangerous dog. It was later concluded that the staff dealing with her were inexperienced.[28][29]

Escape plotEdit

While Dennehy was on remand before the trial, prison staff found an escape plot in her diary. This involved killing or seriously injuring a prison guard, cutting off one of the guard's fingers and using the amputated finger to fool the biometric system in the prison. Because of the plot, Dennehy was placed in solitary confinement from September 2013 (before the court proceedings) to September 2015 (after the proceedings). She claims isolation left her 'tearful and upset' and led to self harm.

The High Court rejected Dennehy's claim that her human rights had been violated. Government lawyers argued isolation was necessary due to the nature of Dennehy's offences and the risk she could pose to the public if she were to escape. Mr Justice Singh found solitary confinement was "in accordance with law (...) at all material times it has been necessary and proportionate". At the time, Dennehy was incarcerated in HMP Bronzefield, Surrey.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

ImprisonmentEdit

In 2019 Dennehy was moved to Low Newton Prison in County Durham. Upon her arrival she threatened to kill Rosemary West, who had been moved to another prison.[36]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Philipson, Alice (19 November 2013). "Female serial killer admits murdering three men before dumping their bodies in ditches". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Joanne Dennehy: what makes a female serial killer tick | News | The Week UK". Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Woman admits murdering three men found stabbed to death in ditches". The Guardian. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Dennehy 'cast a spell on victims'". MSN News. 15 January 2014. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  5. ^ Dixon, Hayley (18 November 2013). "Female serial killer admits three murders". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Joanna Dennehy: Serial Killer".  . 18 April 2019. ITV. Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  7. ^ "Peterborough murders: Joanna Dennehy driven by a thirst 'for blood'". BBC News. 21 January 2014. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  8. ^ Cawley, Laurence (14 February 2014). "Joanne Dennehy: The woman who murdered men 'for fun'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  9. ^ Dodd, Vikram (28 February 2014). "Joanna Dennehy: serial killer becomes first woman told by judge to die in jail". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Peterborough ditch deaths: Joanna Dennehy pleads guilty". BBC News. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 7 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  11. ^ Rob Williams (18 November 2013). "Joanna Dennehy trial: Serial killer stuns Old Bailey by pleading guilty to murdering three men and dumping bodies in ditches – Crime – UK". The Independent. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Joanna Dennehy: what makes a female serial killer tick". Theweek.co.uk. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  13. ^ Steven Morris (28 January 2014). "Murderer Joanna Dennehy diagnosed with paraphilia sadomasochism". Theguardian.com. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Peterborough murders: Joanna Dennehy was mentally ill". BBC News. 23 January 2014. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  15. ^ "BBC News – Peterborough murders: Men 'enjoyed helping Joanna Dennehy'". BBC News. 30 January 2014. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  16. ^ "Joanna Dennehy alleged accomplices 'must be cleared if they feared for lives'". BBC News. 3 February 2014. Archived from the original on 6 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Joanna Dennehy alleged accomplices trial jury sent home". BBC News. 6 February 2014. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Peterborough ditch murders: Pair guilty of aiding killer Joanna Dennehy". BBC News. 10 February 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  19. ^ "Joanna Dennehy: two men guilty of helping serial killer". The Guardian. London, England: guardian Media Group. 10 February 2014. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  20. ^ Thomas, Ed (12 February 2014). "Joanna Dennehy ditch murders: Peterborough helpers guilty". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Joanne Dennehy 'not sorry' for Cambridgeshire ditch murders". BBC News. 14 February 2014. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Peterborough murders: Defendants will not give evidence". BBC News. 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 31 January 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  23. ^ "Joanna Dennehy: serial killer becomes first woman told by judge to die in jail". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  24. ^ Vikram Dodd "Joanna Dennehy: serial killer becomes first woman told by judge to die in jail" Archived 20 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 28 February 2014
  25. ^ "Spree killer Joanne Dennehy 'had sadistic lust for blood'". Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Peterborough murders: Gary Stretch was Dennehy's 'nodding dog'". BBC News. 31 January 2014. Archived from the original on 6 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  27. ^ The "Timeline of police Operation Darcy into murders of three Peterborough men from 2013" Archived 17 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine from the "Peterborough Telegraph" Archived 19 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine newspaper lists a timeline of dates, locations and events between March 2013 until February 2014 tracing the murders of Kevin Lee, Lucasz Slaboszewski and John Chapman in Peterborough and the subsequent court case.
  28. ^ Joanna Dennehy was on probation at time of murders Archived 15 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  29. ^ Serial killer Joanna Dennehy was being supervised by probation when she murdered three men Archived 1 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine Peterborough Telegraph
  30. ^ "Serial killer Joanna Dennehy's escape plot to murder guard revealed as she loses high court compensation bid". Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Serial killer Joanna Dennehy loses High Court human rights damages fight". Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
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  33. ^ "Joanne Dennehy: Triple killer fails in bid for damages over prison trauma". Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  34. ^ "Joanne Dennehy: Triple killer loses bid for damages". Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  35. ^ "Serial killer Joanna Dennehy loses claim her human rights are being violated". Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  36. ^ Jones, Samuel; Warburton, Dan (21 July 2019). "Serial killer Rose West 'moved prisons' after alleged murder threat". gazettelive. Retrieved 2 July 2020.