Joanna Dennehy: A Profile In Evil

Women commit far fewer murders than men. Women who murder purely for pleasure are extremely rare. Joanna Dennehy has joined that elite band.


Psychopath and triple killer Joanna Dennehy and the man who has been described as her nodding dog, Gary Stretch.

Joanna Dennehy appeared at the Central Criminal Court for a pre-trial hearing in November, and to the surprise of all parties, including her own barrister, pleaded guilty to three murders. Earlier this month, her two male accomplices were convicted at Cambridge Crown Court.

The pictured that has emerged from that trial and from the police investigation is one of a woman who set out to murder for the sake of it. All her victims were men, and three of them were stabbed through the heart.

In April of last year it was reported that the body of Peterborough man Kevin Lee had been found near the A16 road at Newborough by a member of the public. Dennehy and a man named Gary Stretch were named as suspects. Stretch is 7 feet 3 inches tall, and as can be seen from the above photograph, Dennehy has a tattoo on her face. Stretch – whose real name is Richards – appears to have taken the name of the former boxer Gary Stretch.

The following month, after her arrest, Dennehy was charged with the murder of Mr Lee and two others: Lukasz Slaboszewski was 31; John Chapman who was 56, was stabbed in the neck and chest. Their bodies were found at Thorney Dyke near the village of Thorney on April 3. Two men were charged with assisting her; two others were released without charge. Because Dennehy decided to plead guilty she did not face a jury trial, but her two alleged accomplices did, and were convicted. At their trial, the jury heard from Robin Bereza who was out walking his dog when Dennehy attacked him. The jury at Cambridge Crown Court was shown graphic photographs of his injuries, which somehow he survived.

John Rogers was another dog walker who was attacked randomly by Dennehy, who lived to tell the tale. He was stabbed over thirty times.

Gary Stretch had been described as Dennehy’s nodding dog, but he was convicted of two attempted murders, while Leslie Layton was convicted of perverting the course of justice and of preventing lawful burials. After the case, Dennehy’s sister Maria described her as a monster, and said she could think of nothing in her past that could have caused her to sink to such depths of depravity.

One serious possibility has been mooted; Dennehy came from a middle class background and is a mother of two. She also became a drug addict, smoking skunk, a particularly strong type of cannabis that can lead to serious mental disorders.

According to one tabloid newspaper, Dennehy believed she was destined to become a serial killer, and set out to murder nine men. There is some debate about whether she should be classified as a serial killer or a spree killer; there may be similar debates about her sanity, even though she was deemed fit to plead, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that she is an extremely dangerous woman.

Joanne Christine Dennehy was originally scheduled to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court alongside her co-defendants Gary John Stretch, Leslie Layton and Robert James Moore on Friday, February 14 - Valentine’s Day. Sentencing was delayed however to await an important ruling by the Court of Appeal. Today, Dennehy stood in the dock at the Central Criminal Court where as expected she was handed down a whole life tariff for her crimes. He co-defendants were also sentenced; Gary Stretch was given a life sentence with a tariff of 17 years. In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Spencer branded the psychopath a pathological liar, as undoubtedly she is. She is also the stuff of nightmares. Expect to see a documentary or film based on her crimes sooner rather than later.

[The above article was published originally February 28, 2014].

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