Taxpayer is funding Peterborough serial killer Joanne Dennehy's compensation case through legal aid
Peterborough serial killer Joanne Dennehy has been given legal aid to fight for compensation over a breach of her human rights while in prison
Dennehy, 33, is serving life for the murders of Kevin Lee, Lukasz Slaboszewski and John Chapman - whose corpses were discovered in remote ditches in rural Cambridgeshire after she butchered them.
With her bloodlust still not satisfied, Dennehy then travelled 140 miles to Hereford where she tried to kill two strangers in a random and cold-blooded act of violence.
Now, she is trying to sue for the trauma of being kept in segregation behind bars - despite evidence of a bizarre escape plot involving alleged plans to use a guard’s severed finger to slip through security.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed Dennehy received legal aid, paid for by the taxpayer.
He said: “We robustly defend compensation claims as far as the evidence allows, and have successfully defended two-thirds of prisoner claims over the last three years.”
“Prisoners should not get legal aid unnecessarily, and we have already stopped funding for cases that can be dealt with through existing complaints processes.”
Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, was caged for life at the Old Bailey in February 2014 after admitting three murders and two attempted murders.
She was jailed alongside three other men who helped in her spree of crimes.
The judge who sentenced her said she had shown no remorse, branding her a “cruel, calculating, selfish and manipulative serial killer”.
But Dennehy’s case has now reached the High Court as her lawyers challenge her allegedly harsh and oppressive prison regime.
Her QC, Hugh Southey, described the psychopathic lifer as a “vulnerable” inmate due to her history of severe personality disorders, and episodes of self-harming dating back to childhood.
Mr Southey is challenging Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, over HMP Bronzefield’s decision to keep Dennehy segregated from other prisoners - entailing long periods of isolation.
The incarceration is taking a heavy toll on Dennehy, he told Mr Justice Singh, leaving her “tearful and upset” and at times resuming her practice of self-harming.
The initial reason for segregation focused on fears of a prison break by Dennehy and other inmates dating back to her time on remand, the court heard.
Security staff at the jail had disclosed that there was a credible escape plan involving two other prisoners and “a plan to seriously assault or kill a member of prison staff”, said her QC.
One aspect of the alleged plan was that “the finger of an officer would be cut off in an attempt to deceive the biometric security system at the prison”.
On top of that a written plan was said to have been found in Dennehy’s cell “with detailed plans involving the killing of a female officer to obtain her keys and to utilise her fingerprints to pass through the biometric system”.
However, Mr Southey said 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 told the court, adding that the police had investigated the claims and “confirmed that no further action would be taken”.
Mr Grayling’s lawyers are now seeking to justify her segregation on the basis of the risk posed by Dennehy due to the “nature of her offending”.
They also say that Dennehy is already undergoing a “phased reintegration” to normal prison life.
But Mr Southey cited evidence of her past good behaviour behind bars, attacking her continued segregation as unnecessary and a violation of her human rights.
Dennehy’s lawyers seek a court ruling that her segregation amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, banned by the Human Rights Convention.
Because of her mental illness, they also say she is a victim of disability discrimination.
Dennehy, they argue, should be compensated “to afford just satisfaction” for the breaches of her rights.
The jury at Dennehy’s trial heard that she had “cast a spell” over some of her victims.
She had met one of them, Lukasz Slaboszewski, just days before his killing at a property in Peterborough on or soon after March 19.
He had told friends he had met an “English girlfriend” and it is thought he went to meet Dennehy expecting sex. She stabbed him in the heart before depositing his corpse in a wheelie bin.
On March 29 2013 she stabbed John Chapman at the block of bedsits they shared in Bifield, near Peterborough.
Mr Chapman, a Falklands War veteran, was fearful of Dennehy and described her to friends as the “man-woman”.
She then arranged to meet Mr Lee - her landlord with whom she was having an affair - before also stabbing him to death.
Mr Lee’s body - wearing a black sequin dress and arranged in a sexual pose in a “final act of humiliation” - was discovered in a ditch near Newborough on March 30.
While on the run in Hereford, Dennehy and an accomplice randomly selected two dog walkers - Mr Bereza and John Rogers - for attack.
She leapt from a car and repeatedly stabbed each of them. Both men suffered severe injuries but survived the attacks.
Criminologists have speculated that she singled out her victims because they were men, although her precise motives remain unclear.
She told one psychiatrist that she started killing to “see how it would feel - to see if I was as cold as I thought I was”.
“Then it just got more-ish.”
Mr Justice Singh is expected to reserve his decision on Dennehy’s case until a later date.