A judge rules today on a Peterborough serial killer’s High Court claim that she is entitled to damages for human rights violations after being placed in segregation in jail.
Joanna Dennehy, 33, was given a whole-life sentence at her Old Bailey trial for murdering three men and stabbing two more.
She admitted the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, whose bodies were found in ditches in and around Peterborough in 2013.
Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in Hereford and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her murder victims.
She claimed at London’s High Court that she has been “unfairly and unlawfully” held in segregation at HMP Bronzefield near Ashford, Surrey, since prison guards allegedly found a breakout plot in her diary.
Hugh Southey QC argued at a hearing in March that her incarceration violated her human rights and had taken a heavy toll, leaving her “tearful and upset”, and at times she was resuming her practice of self-harming.
Mr Southey described Dennehy, who was jailed in February 2014, as a “vulnerable” inmate due to her history of severe personality disorders, and episodes of self-harming dating back to childhood.
Government lawyers have conceded the segregation period between September 19 2013 and September 4 2015 was technically unlawful because it was not properly authorised by former justice secretary Chris Grayling.
But they say segregation was fair, justified and lawful due to the nature of Dennehy’s offending and the escape risk she poses. They submitted there was also no procedural unfairness during her continued segregation after September 2014.
Justice Department barrister Tom Weisselberg QC told the High Court: “Dennehy was segregated because a credible escape plan involving her and two other prisoners had been uncovered.
“A written plan was located in her cell with detailed plans involving killing a female officer to obtain her keys and to utilise her finger prints in order to deceive the biometric systems.
“She was placed on the escape list, which involved the wearing of an escape suit.”
Jenni Richards QC, appearing for HMP Bronzefield, described Dennehy as “arguably the most dangerous female prisoner in custody”.
Dennehy “got a taste for killing” and had admitted to the psychiatrist that she was “sadistic”.
Mr Southey submitted there was unfairness because the escape allegations were never properly put to Dennehy at the time.
She insisted that the alleged plot was nothing more than a “doodle” found in her diary, Mr Southey said.
The police had investigated the claims and “confirmed that no further action would be taken”.
Dennehy is only the third woman to be given a whole-life prison term. Moors murderer Myra Hindley and House of Horrors serial killer Rose West are the other two.