UK & World News

  • 31 January 2014, 17:31

Ditch Killer Dennehy 'Like Shakespeare Villain'

Serial killer Joanna Dennehy was like a Shakespearean villain who bent her alleged accomplices to her will, a court has been told.

Karim Khalil QC, who represents Gary Stretch, one of two defendants on trial at Cambridge Crown Court, said his client had been taken in by the "evil of a woman who described herself as a monster".

While few playwrights or authors would have dared pen such a "ghastly tale of criminality", Dennehy's killings were reminiscent of a Jacobean tragedy, the barrister said in his closing speech.

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

Killers such as Dennehy surrounded themselves with people they knew to be weak or who they could "bend to their will", he went on.

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

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

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."

Describing his client as a "nodding dog", he added: "It is plain that Mr Stretch was fearful of what she might do, not boasting about it or enjoying it all."

Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, has admitted murdering Lucasz Slaboszewski, 31, John Chapman, 56, and Kevin Lee, 48, whose bodies were found in ditches in Cambridgeshire last year.

She has also admitted the attempted murders of Robin Bereza and John Rogers, who she randomly selected and stabbed in the street in Hereford, and preventing the lawful and decent burial of all three murder victims.

Stretch - real name Gary Richards - and Leslie Layton, are accused of acting as her accomplices.

Both men accept their involvement but claim they were acting under duress.

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