The 'Peterborough Ditch Murders' – Joanna Dennehy's co-defendants convicted

The 'Peterborough Ditch Murders' – Joanna Dennehy's co-defendants convicted

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Introduction

Now that the trial of the co-defendants has ended, we can look at the case of Joanna Dennehy, Gary ‘Stretch’ Richards, Leslie Layton and Robert Moore.

It is a bizarre story in some ways. Serial killers are obviously very rare, female ones even more so, so there will be a lot of media interest in her (although the technical term would be a ‘spree killer’ rather than a serial killer). On 29th March 2013 (maybe before with some of the victims), Ms Dennehy murdered three people (her landlord and two flatmates) by stabbing them and disposing of their bodies in a ditch.

Shortly after she had (along, it was alleged, with Mr Richards) selected two people at random and stabbed them, leaving them for dead. Fortunately, they both survived. More details can be found here.

Charges

Joanna Dennehy – pleaded guilty to :

  • Murder of Lucasz Slaboszewski
  • Murder of John Chapman
  • Murder of Kevin Lee
  • Attempted murder of Robin Bereza
  • Attempted murder of John Rogers

Gary Stretch – stood trial for :

  • Preventing the lawful burial of Lucasz Slaboszewski – Guilty
  • Preventing the lawful burial of John Chapman – Guilty
  • Preventing the lawful burial of Kevin Lee – Guilty
  • – Attempted murder of Robin Bereza – Guilty
  • Attempted murder of John Rogers – Guilty

Leslie Layton – stood trial for :

Robert Moore– pleaded guilty to:

  • Assisting an offender

Sentencing

We have a factsheet for sentencing for murder. It seems that Ms Dennehy has been diagnosed as suffering from paraphilia sadomasochism and the motivation for the murders may have been sexual.

If that is determined to be the motive, then the starting point will be a whole life tariff (see here for all the controversies about this). If not, then the starting point will be 30 years. Whilst she will get credit for a guilty plea, this will be outweighed by the fact that there were three murders and the two attempted murders.

We would expect a tariff of at least 40 years. She is currently aged 31, so this will be close to a whole life sentence.

For the other people, it is a lot harder to say without having more details of what exactly they were supposed to have done, but all will be getting a custodial sentence of one form or another.

Ms Dennehy will be sentenced on Friday with the other men next week (it’s not clear why they won’t all be sentenced together which would be the usual course).

Conclusion

The tabloids had a field day on this when Ms Dennehy pleaded guilty, and we can expect that this will continue.

Ms Dennehy will need to be brought to Court for the sentence, so we would expect to go off for another day (probably tomorrow). We will return to this in more detail when there is more information.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Morbidly fascinating because while most women can identify with the urge to want to kill one particular man we seldom give in to it let alone more than one. So what motivated Joanna to act rather than just fantasise I wonder.

  2. It’s a strange case indeed. As you (L-E-S) say most murderers (at least the ones that get caught . . . ) are male, as indeed are 70% of their victims; the commonest pattern is male-on-male, and this is the rarest, female on more than one male. By definition murderers are weird people but this is beyond the understanding of any of us, I think, male or female. I remember that the sentencing remarks of the judge in the case of the woman who burnt several people out of their homes suggested that he could not get his head round it, and it may be the same here when sentencing comes, especially as the judge in this case will not have heard here give evidence and had the chance to size her up.

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