Peterborough murders: Gary Stretch was Dennehy's 'nodding dog'

Gary Stretch Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption Gary Stretch's barrister described him as a "nodding dog" in helping Dennehy

Killer Joanna Dennehy was like a Shakespearean villain who turned a 7ft 3in (2.2m) man into a fearful "nodding dog", a jury has heard.

Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing three men and dumping their bodies.

At Cambridge Crown Court, Gary Stretch, 47, denies two counts of attempted murder. Leslie Layton, 36, has denied perverting the course of justice.

Karim Khalil QC, for Mr Stretch, said Dennehy's killings were a "ghastly tale of criminality".

He then described his client as her "nodding dog".

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Joanna Dennehy has admitted three murders and two attempted murders. She took this "selfie" image while on the run from police

The bodies of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, John Chapman, 56, and Kevin Lee, 48, were found dumped in ditches near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, last March and April.

The court heard Mr Lee told his wife he was having an affair with Dennehy, whom he described as a cross between Uma Thurman in the film Kill Bill, the character Sarah Connor from the Terminator films and Canadian singer Alanis Morissette.

Mr Stretch, who was previously known as Gary Richards, and Mr Layton are both also accused of preventing lawful burial.

Addressing the issue of Mr Stretch's size, Mr Khalil said: "Fear is a terrible thing. It crushes the human spirit. Fear makes a mockery of size."

He said Mr Stretch had been taken in by the "evil of a woman who described herself as a monster".

"Shakespeare and Jacobean writers understood how one foul deed could beget a sequence of tragic circumstances," said Mr Khalil.

Killers like Dennehy surrounded themselves with people they knew to be weak or who they could "bend to their will", said Mr Khalil.

"In such circumstances, ordinary people behave in ways that they would have thought inconceivable.

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

"The question in this case is, may there have been a reasonable fear of death which caused Mr Stretch to act as he did?"

Dennehy, who is awaiting sentencing, has also admitted the attempted murders of Robin Bereza and John Rogers, whom she randomly selected and stabbed in the street in Hereford.

Recounting a conversation in which Dennehy had laughed when asked by former cell-mate Georgina Page if she felt bad about killing three people, Mr Khalil said: "Mr Stretch did not laugh.

"He said 'It makes me feel sick. I'm not a killer or a murderer'."

Christopher Morgan, for Mr Layton, said: "The only person who glorifies in death and who trades on it and gets satisfaction from thinking about it and doing it is Joanna Dennehy.

"Leslie Layton has nothing to do with those exceptional circumstances, he's now caught up in it."

A third man, Robert Moore, 55, of Belvoir Way, Peterborough, has admitted assisting an offender and is also awaiting sentence.

The hearing continues.

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