Peterborough Killer's Tearful High Court Claim
14 March 2016, 16:18
A High Court claim by a Peterborough serial killer or damages after becoming "tearful and upset" while segregated in jail has been condemned by an MP as a "misuse" of human rights laws.
Joanna Dennehy, 33, was given a whole-life sentence at her Old Bailey trial for murdering three men and stabbing two more.
She admitted the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, in and around Peterborough in a 10 day period in March 2013.
Dennehy also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her murder victims.
Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, claims her human rights have been breached because she has been "unfairly and unlawfully" held in segregation at HMP Bronzefield near Ashford, Surrey, after prison guards allegedly found a breakout plot in her diary.
Hugh Southey QC told a judge her incarceration was taking a heavy toll, leaving her "tearful and upset" and at times she was resuming her practice of self-harming.
Mr Southey described her as a "vulnerable" inmate due to her history of severe personality disorders, and episodes of self-harming dating back to childhood. Dennehy's claims of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights has been heard by Mr Justice Singh, sitting in London, and he is expected to give his ruling in the next few weeks.
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson described the case as an "affront" to Dennehy's victims.
Mr Jackson said:
"This is an outrageous misuse of the Human Rights Act and it adds very strongly to the continuing argument that we should abolish it. It was an egregious affront and offence to the victim's families. She did have a fair trial and what emerged from that is that she is a pretty much a unique individual in terms of her lack of empathy and the way she murdered her victims."
Government lawyers have conceded the segregation period between September 19 2013-September 4 2015 was technically unlawful because it was not properly authorised by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
But they say segregation was fair, justified and lawful due to the nature of Dennehy's offending and the escape risk she poses. They submitted there was also no procedural unfairness during her continued segregation after September 2014.
Dennehy became the first woman in the UK to be ordered to die in prison when she was jailed on February 28, 2014.
Justice Department barrister Tom Weisselberg QC told the High Court at a hearing last week:
"Dennehy was segregated because a credible escape plan involving her and two other prisoners had been uncovered".
A written plan was located in her cell with detailed plans involving killing a female officer to obtain her keys and to utilise her finger prints in order to deceive the biometric systems
She was placed on the escape list, which involved the wearing of an escape suit.''
Jenni Richards QC, appearing for HMP Bronzefield, described Dennehy as "arguably the most dangerous female prisoner in custody".
Dennehy "got a taste for killing" and had admitted to the psychiatrist she was "sadistic".
Mr Southey submitted there was unfairness because the escape allegations were never properly put to Dennehy at the time.
She insisted that the alleged plot was nothing more than a "doodle" found in her diary, said Mr Southey.
The police had investigated the claims and "confirmed that no further action would be taken".