Peterborough ditch murders: Serial killer Joanna Dennehy wanted to be popular like Bonnie and Clyde

Peterborough ditch murders: Serial killer Joanna Dennehy wanted to be popular like Bonnie and Clyde
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In March 2013, Cambridgeshire found itself in the limelight after a series of murders rocked the United Kingdom. The crimes were referred to as the "Peterborough ditch murders" as the three victims of the horrific crimes — all males who died of stab wounds — were found dumped unceremoniously in ditches outside Peterborough. The murderer was later discovered to be local woman Joanna Dennehy who has come to be known as "the most dangerous woman in the prison system".

The horrid tale begins with the discovery of Kevin Lee's body. Lee was a property developer and also happened to be Dennehy's landlord and lover. He was killed on March 29, 2013, and his body was found the next day in the ditch near Newborough. He was oddly wearing a black sequined dress when his body was found.

Dennehy's two housemates — Lukasz Slaboszewski and John Chapman — were also stabbed to death and dumped in ditches. Polish native Slaboszewski was revealed to have been killed on March 19 and Chapman was killed on March 29, shortly before Lee was murdered. Both their bodies were found on April 3 close to Thorney with stab wounds.

After Dennehy had murdered her three victims, she reportedly drove to Hereford where she stabbed two other men, who were both lucky enough to survive the attack.

Dennehy had specifically targeted men during her rampage and even told Mark Lloyd, an acquaintance of her's, that she did not want to kill a woman; especially not a woman who had children. Lloyd later stated that Dennehy had initially wanted to kill nine men in total because she wanted to be like Bonnie and Clyde.

Dennehy had reportedly hunted and stabbed the men for the sake of entertainment. She told Gary Stretch, who was formerly known as Gary Richards and was her alleged accomplice: "I want my fun. I need you to get my fun." 

Dennehy told a psychiatrist at a later date that she found the act of murder to be "moreish" and that, after she killed for the first time, she "got a taste for it".

She pleaded guilty to all three of the murders, as well as the two attempted murders, in November 2013.


Maria, her sister, was not the least bit surprised that she had entered a guilty plea and said in an interview: "I think she did that to control the situation. She likes people to know she's the boss."

Dennehy is still being held at HM Prison Bronzefield. The assessing psychiatrists later diagnosed the killer with psychopathic, anti-social and borderline personality disorders. Two of Dennehy's alleged accomplices, Stretch and another man called Leslie Layton, also stood trial with a slew of crimes for assisting Dennehy. Both of them decided that they would not give evidence or face any cross-examination. 

On February 4, 2014, the jury started considering their verdicts. Stretch was found guilty of attempted murder and Layton was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Both the men were convicted on all the other charges on February 12. 

On February 24, Dennehy was finally sentenced to life behind bars at the Old Bailey court. The trial judge, Justice Spencer, recommended that she should never be released because of the premeditation of each of the murders. Spencer then said that Dennehy was sadomasochistic, and lacked the normal range of human emotions.


Dennehy is one of only three women in the UK who has been given life imprisonment without parole. She stands third after infamous killers Myra Hindley and Rosemary West.

An in-depth documentary on Dennehy and the murders titled 'Joanna Dennehy: Serial Killer' premiered on ITV on April 18.

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