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12 February 2014, 14:41
Two men have been convicted of helping a Peterborough triple murderer cover her tracks.
Gary Stretch, formerly known as Gary Richards, and Leslie Layton were today (Wednesday) convicted of assisting Joanne Dennehy in disposing of three bodies and helping her to evade police.
Dennehy, 31, stabbed three men to death and attacked another two men while on the run from police last year. She pleaded guilty to all three murders and two attempted murders at an earlier hearing at the Old Bailey.
Stretch was convicted of three counts of preventing lawful and decent burial and two attempted murders following a trial at Cambridge Crown Court.
Layton has been convicted of two counts of preventing lawful and decent burial and perverting the course of justice.
Dennehy, of Bifield, Peterborough, murdered Lukasz Slaboszewski on March 19 at Rolleston Garth, Peterborough. After stabbing the 31-year-old to death, his body was put in a green wheelie bin where it was kept before it was discovered dumped on farmland at Thorney Dyke on April 3.
Stretch, 47, of Riseholme, Peterborough, was convicted of helping her move his body.
The body of John Chapman, 57, was also found at the same time nearby. He had been stabbed to death on March 29 at Bifield, Peterborough.
Stretch and Layton, 37, of Bifield, had helped Dennehy remove Mr Chapman's body from the house and dump it at Thorney Dyke.
Dennehy's third victim, and the first body to be found, was Kevin Lee, 49, from Fletton, who ran a lettings agency in Peterborough and was the landlord for the Bifield and Rolleston Garth properties.
He was reported missing by his family on March 29. He was last seen buying CDs from HMV in Peterborough before going to meet Dennehy.
His body was found on farmland at Newborough by a dog walker, on March 30, and his Ford Mondeo was later found burned out.
A murder investigation was launched and Dennehy and Stretch were quickly identified as having been involved. A wanted appeal was issued for the pair.
On March 30, Dennehy and Stretch spent the night with Robert Moore at Belvoir Way, Peterborough. Moore later lied to police about their whereabouts and told the pair about developments into the murder investigation.
Dennehy and Stretch left the Peterborough area on March 31. Layton was arrested on April 1.
By April 2, while on the run from police, Dennehy and Stretch committed two burglaries in Herefordshire. They then drove around Hereford looking for people to kill, selecting victims at random.
At about 3.40pm, Dennehy got out of the car being driven by Stretch and stabbed Robin Bereza, 63, who had been walking his dog, on Westfaling Street.
Less than 15 minutes later, having left Mr Bereza for dead, Stretch selected John Rogers, 56, who was walking his dog along a footpath between Golden Post and the Belmont estate. Dennehy stabbed him repeatedly before stealing his dog, Archie.
Stretch and Dennehy were arrested soon after and the green Vauxhall Astra was seized by police. The dog was recovered alive and well.
The bodies of Mr Chapman and Slaboszewski were found the following day.
Robert Moore pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on December 19 to two counts of assisting an offender.
All four will be sentenced at a later date.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Brunning, who led the investigation, said: "This has been one of the largest and most complex investigations in my 20 years' experience.
"Three men were brutally murdered in Peterborough and two men were stabbed in West Mercia – today their killer and her willing accomplices have now been brought to justice.
"Joanne 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.
"Her accomplices not only fuelled her violence but also assisted her in these cruel crimes, by helping her dump their bodies.
"Stretch drove her around and helped her pick her next victims - without a thought of the impact on them or their loved ones.
"Moore sheltered Dennehy and Stretch while they were on the run and lied to police about their whereabouts while Layton was prepared to help Stretch and Dennehy with their criminal activities, helped dump the bodies and did everything in his power to assist them to avoid being caught.
"The actions of Dennehy and those who helped her have had a devastating impact on the families of those killed and the surviving victims.
"Two of the victims will live with what Dennehy has done for the rest of their lives. I hope today's convictions will provide them, and their families, with some closure."
Detective Inspector Dave Williams, West Mercia Police Major Investigation Unit, said: "In addition to the trauma the victims have suffered, these horrific attacks have had a devastating effect on the Herefordshire community.
"Random stranger attacks are rare and as a result of a robust policing response to these attacks by local officers the offenders were quickly apprehended and prevented from harming anybody else.
"The actions of the public in coming to the aid of Mr Rogers, who had been left for dead, and gave him first aid undoubtedly contributed to his survival and are commendable."
Chris McCann, head of the CPS East of England Complex Casework Unit said:"Today’s guilty verdicts prove that Gary Stretch and Leslie Layton were willing assistants in these murders and that they were not acting under duress, as they tried to claim.
Both men willingly assisted Joanne Dennehy in disposing of the bodies of her three victims and in covering up the crimes she had committed.
Stretch, Layton and Moore were in the thrall of triple-murderer Joanne 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.
I would like to thank Mr Bereza and Mr Rogers for giving evidence in this trial and reliving what must have been a terrible experience for them.
I hope the two victims and the families of Lukasz Slaboszewski, John Chapman and Kevin Lee can take some comfort from the fact that the perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice and will be punished for what they have done."