NewsCrime World

Female serial killer considering appeal after losing claim for damages

Joanna Dennehy
Joanna Dennehy

Serial killer Joanna Dennehy is considering whether to appeal after losing her High Court claim for damages for human rights violations she says were caused by being placed in segregation.

Dennehy, 33, formerly of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, is currently one of only two women serving whole-life sentences and was described in court as "arguably the most dangerous female prisoner in custody".

She was jailed at the Old Bailey in February 2014 for murdering three men and stabbing two more.

She claimed that she had been left "tearful and upset" after being placed in segregation at HMP Bronzefield near Ashford, Surrey, since prison guards allegedly found a breakout plot in her diary.

Mr Justice Singh, sitting in London, said even someone "who has committed the most serious crimes" was entitled to have their human rights protected.

But he ruled Dennehy was not entitled to any payout.

The judge said that, although there had been a period between September 21 2013 and September 4 2015 when her segregation was unlawful because it had not been properly authorised under the Prison Rules, the move had at all times been "reasonable, necessary and proportionate".

Dennehy was refused permission to appeal, but her legal team were given 35 days to ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear her case.

Her whole-life prison sentence was imposed after she admitted the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, whose bodies were found in ditches in and around Peterborough in 2013.

She also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in Hereford and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her murder victims.

Dennehy, claimed that she has been "unfairly and unlawfully" held in segregation at HMP Bronzefield.

Hugh Southey QC argued at a hearing in March that her incarceration violated her human rights on a number of grounds.

Being placed in segregation had taken a heavy toll, leaving her "tearful and upset", and at times she was resuming her practice of self-harming, said the QC.

Mr Southey described Dennehy as a "vulnerable" inmate due to her history of severe personality disorders, and episodes of self-harming dating back to childhood.

He contended she was being discriminated against because of her disability.

But the judge accepted arguments on behalf of Justice Secretary Michael Gove that her segregation was fair, justified and lawful due to the nature of her offending and the escape risk she poses.

Justice Department barrister Tom Weisselberg QC had told the court:: "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 that she was "sadistic".

Mr Southey submitted there was unfairness because the escape allegations were never properly put to Dennehy at the time, and she insisted that the alleged plot was nothing more than a "doodle" found in her diary.

The police had investigated the claims and "confirmed that no further action would be taken".

Dennehy is only the third woman to be given a whole-life prison term. Moors murderer Myra Hindley, who has died, and House of Horrors serial killer Rose West are the other two.