1. ITV Report

Dennehy 'cast a spell on victims'

Joanna Dennehy. Photo:

Female serial killer Joanna Dennehy "cast a spell" over her victims before embarking on a 10-day spree of violence, a court has heard.

Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing three men in the heart and dumping their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire but until now little has been known about the killings.

As the trial of her alleged accomplices Gary Stretch and Leslie Layton, 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 Dennehy."

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

The prosecutor described how, after the killings, Dennehy and Stretch drove to Hereford where they selected two other men at random. She repeatedly stabbed them both in the street but both survived.

Mr Wright added that both Mr Slaboszewski and Mr Lee were also drawn by Dennehy's spell.

"They paid for that with their lives," he added.

Dennehy met Mr Slaboszewski, a heroin addict, shortly before his death.

She lured him to a house in Rolleston Garth, Peterborough, with a series of text messages on March 19 and he was never seen again, Mr Wright said.

His body was kept in a wheelie bin before being transported to the isolated Thorney Dyke.

Mr Wright told the court: "She even showed the body to a teenage girl quite casually as it lay in the wheelie bin."

Mr Chapman and Mr Lee were both killed on March 29.

Mr Chapman, who served in the Falklands war with the Navy but had fallen on hard times, lived in a bedsit in the same run-down property as Dennehy in Bifield, Orton Goldhay.

Residents of the bedsits had dubbed her the "man woman" because of her intimidating nature.

Mr Wright said Mr Chapman, under the influence of drink and drugs, was "at the mercy" of Dennehy as she stabbed him to death in his bedsit.

Afterwards she invited the two defendants to the property and Layton photographed Mr Chapman's body on his mobile phone, the court heard.

Mr Lee, a property manager who was having an affair with Dennehy, had let the bedsit to Chapman.

He was described as being in love with Dennehy and had used her to intimidate residents who would not do as he wished.

But he became her victim and was stabbed multiple times after visiting her at the same address where Mr Slaboszewski died.

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

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

"There they 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.

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

"Both men were left for dead."

Describing the involvement of the two defendants, 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 added that Layton had also been a willing participant who took steps to distance Dennehy from responsibility for the murders.

Mr Lee's body was found by a dog walker in a ditch near Newborough on March 30 and a farmer found the remaining two bodies four days later.

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.

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 tall, Stretch sat in the dock wearing a blue t-shirt and a crucifix necklace listened to proceedings through a hearing aid.

Layton, 36, of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, has denied perverting the course of justice and 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.

The case is expected to last up to four weeks.

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