High drama at Old Bailey: Peterborough woman stuns court by admitting three murders

Joanne Dennehy. Photo supplied
Joanne Dennehy. Photo supplied
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Tattooed serial killer Joanna Dennehy shocked the Old Bailey on Monday (18 November) when she pleaded guilty to killing three men in Peterborough.

No-one was expecting her stunning admission that she killed Peterborough men John Chapman, her landlord Kevin Lee and Lukasz Slaboszewski in March this year, before the bodies were dumped in remote ditches in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Left to right, Kevin Lee, John Chapman and Lucasz Slaboszewski. Photos supplied

Left to right, Kevin Lee, John Chapman and Lucasz Slaboszewski. Photos supplied

Dennehy (31) of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, wearing a white shirt with a distinctive tattoo of a star on her face, was flanked by security guards in the historic court room number two on Monday when she entered her shocking guilty pleas.

And there was another twist in the packed court room, which had some members of the victims’ families sitting next to the dock, as in a rare move, her legal team was given a week to meet with her again, and lodge any application to change her plea.

Her barrister, Nigel Lickley QC, said: “The course of the arraignment is not one we had anticipated.”

Following a short adjournment, where Mr Lickley went down to the cells to meet his client, the case was called back into court.

Mr Lickley said: “It is incumbent on us to inform the court whether the pleas will be maintained or changed and to that end arrangements have been made to see Miss Dennehy hopefully on Friday this week.

“If that is possible we will inform the court on Monday.”

Dennehy then interrupted to say: “I’m not coming back down here again just to say the same stuff.

“It’s a long way to come to say the same thing I have just said.”

Mr Justice Sweeney said: “She has pleaded guilty to a large number of counts, clearly intentionally, and in the circumstances if there is to be any application for a change then I will consider it but otherwise she has pleaded guilty.”

Dennehy stabbed Mr Slaboszewski at some point between March 19 and Good Friday, March 29.

She killed the other two men on March 29, with Mr Lee’s body being found the following day in Newborough, and the other two men being found in Thorney Dyke a few days later.

Along with the murder of the three men, Dennehy also pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful and decent burial of the dead bodies, and the attempted murder of two other men, Robin Bereza and John Rogers. The attempted murders, which again involved stab wounds, took place on April 2 in Hereford.

She had been expected to enter her pleas at a hearing in September, when she appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from prison.

At that hearing Dennehy was given a number of warnings by Mr Justice Sweeney about her behaviour, and at one point he even said he would turn the link off if she did not behave,

Following the pleas, residents living in Bifield spoke of their shock at the revelation they had been living on the same street as a serial killer.

One woman, who asked not to be named, said: “There were always a lot of people moving in and out of the house.

“It belonged to Mr Lee, and I think he let the wrong sort of people live there. It was always a rough house.

“I didn’t know Joanne, and I don’t think she had many friends here.”

Another man said: “I have only just moved here, but it is a shock to hear about something like this happening here.”

The house in Bifield is still boarded up, while tributes to Mr Chapman remain scrawled on the wooden door. The graffiti reads ‘RIP John’ and ‘Justice Will Be Done.’

A house in Rolleston Garth, Welland, was also searched by police, and a ‘Sold’ sign has now been placed on the fence outside the home.

Related: Timeline: Peterborough triple murder investigation

Three men deny involvement in deaths

Along with Joanne Dennehy, three men have also been charged in connection with the murders, and will face a trial over their alleged involvement.

Gary Richards - also known as Gary Stretch - of Riseholm, Peterborough, is charged with three counts of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body in relation to Mr Lee, Mr Chapman and Mr Slaboszewski.

Stretch (47) is also charged with two counts of attempted murder, in relation to the incident in Hereford.

He appeared at the Old Bailey alongside Dennehy on Monday, where he entered not guilty pleas to all counts.

The two other defendants entered pleas at the Old Bailey via video link in September. Robert Moore and Leslie Layton also appeared at the London court on Monday, again via video link.

Layton (36) of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, is charged with preventing the lawful and decent burial of the bodies of Mr Lee and Mr Chapman, between March 27 and April 4.

He is also charged with perverting the course of justice, in that he failed to tell police information about Mr Chapman during a police investigation. Layton pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Moore (55) of Belvoir Way, Welland, Peterborough, faces two counts of assisting an offender, in that he provided accommodation to Dennehy and Stretch on or about April 1.

Moore also pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

A trial involving all three men is set to take place in the new year.

The Old Bailey heard lawyers expect the trial will last for at least four weeks, and will start on January 14, 2014 at Cambridge Crown Court.

All the defendants remain in custody ahead of the hearing. They are not expected to appear at court again before the start of the trial.