Two men “manipulated” by serial killer Joanna Dennehy have been convicted of offences relating to her spree of violence.
Psychopath Dennehy murdered three men, Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, in and around Peterborough over a ten-day period last year.
Gary Stretch, 47, was yesterday found guilty at Cambridge Crown Court of the attempted murder of dog walker Robin Bereza, while Leslie Layton, 36, was convicted of preventing the lawful burial of two murder victims.
Prosecutors said the men, who had already been found guilty of other offences relating to Dennehy’s attacks in March last year, “revelled in bringing suffering and misery upon their victims and showed no remorse for their atrocious acts”.
Dennehy, 31, had previously pleaded guilty to the killings, as well as admitting the attempted murders of two dog walkers, John Rogers and Mr Bereza, and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her victims.
Layton, a petty criminal, claimed he helped Dennehy because he was scared. Stretch had previously been convicted of burglary after neighbours recognised his 7ft 3in frame.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Brunning, who led the investigation into Dennehy’s killings, said “Joanna Dennehy is a sadistic ‘serial killer’ with a fearsome personality.
“She manipulated these men into doing things she wanted. I am relieved she is facing a substantial period of time behind bars.”
On Monday, jurors found Stretch guilty of three counts of preventing the lawful burial of a body and another count of attempted murder in relation to Mr Rogers in Hereford on 2 April.
Layton was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice. The jury returned a majority verdict on the three remaining charges.
During the trial, prosecutors said Dennehy “cast a spell” over her alleged accomplices and some of her victims as she killed “for fun”. Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, was likened to “Uma Thurman from Kill Bill and the woman from the Terminator” by married father-of-two Mr Lee shortly before his death.
Another victim, Mr Chapman, had dubbed her the “man woman” because of her intimidating nature.
At the height of a nationwide manhunt, she bragged to one witness that she had killed eight people, although no further murders have been detected. All of the murder victims died from multiple stab injuries, including wounds to the heart.
Dennehy had bragged that she and Stretch were “like Bonnie and Clyde” as they drove 140 miles across the country to seek out further victims.
The court heard that she drove to Hereford with Stretch in a Vauxhall Astra registered in the false company name Undertaker and Sons.
Once there, the diagnosed psychopath randomly selected and repeatedly stabbed two dog walkers – Mr Bereza and Mr Rogers – in the street. Both survived despite suffering critical injuries.
Describing the involvement of the two defendants, prosecutor Peter Wright QC said both had been “willing and able” participants in the plot. Neither man gave evidence in the trial, but both claimed they had been acting under duress.
All three will be sentenced at a later date along with a third man, Robert Moore, 55, of Peterborough, who previously admitted assisting an offender.
Chris McCann, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Stretch, Layton and Moore were in the thrall of triple-murderer Joanna Dennehy. They revelled in bringing suffering and misery upon their victims and showed no remorse for their atrocious acts.
“The fact that Leslie Layton photographed one of the deceased victims is testament to the warped nature of these crimes and those that committed them.”