Peterborough murders: Men helped 'cover up' for Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Dennehy Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Joanna Dennehy is awaiting sentence for three counts of murder

A woman who committed three murders was helped by two men who covered up the "terrible truth", a court has heard.

Joanna Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing Lukasz Slaboszewski, Kevin Lee, and John Chapman and dumping their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire.

Gary Stretch, 47, and Leslie Layton, 36, both of Peterborough, have denied various charges, including preventing lawful burials.

Cambridge Crown Court heard Dennehy is awaiting sentence.

After the killings, she drove to Hereford where she selected two other men at random and stabbed them in the street, the court heard.

Both survived.

Until now, little explanation of how or why Dennehy carried out the killings has been given in court.

'Under Dennehy's spell'

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said Mr Stretch and Mr Layton helped Dennehy in her bid to cover up the "terrible truth" of the murders.

He added: "These men came under the spell of Joanna Dennehy."

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

Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption The bodies of Lukasz Slaboszewski (l), John Chapman (c) and Kevin Lee (r) were found in Cambridgeshire

Mr Wright said: "The first to die, Lukasz Slaboszewski, was befriended by Dennehy and lured to his death at a property she had access to.

"His body was left in a green wheelie bin for some time until she moved it to a ditch on farmland nearby."

It is alleged Mr Stretch helped her move the body after the killing, which happened between 19 and 29 March, he added.

The second victim, Mr Chapman, was stabbed to death in a bedsit in Orton Goldhay on 29 March before being dumped alongside the body of Mr Slaboszewski.

The same day, Dennehy killed her final victim.

Businessman Mr Lee ran a property letting firm and was having an affair with her, Mr Wright said.

'Left for dead'

He was murdered and Dennehy and Mr Stretch then sought out further victims in Hereford on 2 April, the court heard.

"There, they together committed further acts of serious violence against two entire strangers who just happened to come across their path," Mr Wright said.

After searching for victims, Dennehy selected Robin Bereza and John Rogers before repeatedly stabbing them, Mr Wright said.

"Joanna Dennehy got out of the vehicle while Gary Stretch waited," he added.

"Both men were left for dead."

He said Dennehy and Mr Stretch were "acting as a couple, they were a team".

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Gary Stretch, who is 7ft 3in (2.2m) tall, was a 'willing accomplice', the court heard

'Chose to participate'

"Gary Stretch was able to act as her willing accomplice in disposing of their bodies and was comfortable in her company," he added.

"He had every opportunity to leave but he chose to participate."

Mr Layton had also be a willing participant who took steps to distance Dennehy from responsibility for the murders.

Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, admitted the murders at the Old Bailey in November.

She also pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful and decent burial of all three victims, and two charges of attempting to murder Mr Bereza and Mr Rogers.

Mr Stretch, real name Gary Richards, of Riseholme, Orton Goldhay, denies three counts of preventing the lawful burial of all three men and two counts of attempted murder.

Mr Layton, of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, denies 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 awaiting sentence.

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