Former St Albans serial killer loses Human Rights compensation bid

Serial killer Joanna Dennehy

Serial killer Joanna Dennehy - Credit: Archant

Notorious serial killer Joanna Dennehy, formerly of St Albans, has today (Thursday) lost her High Court claim for damages for alleged breaches of her human rights.

Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Dennehy - Credit: Archant

The 33 year old complained of being “unfairly and unlawfully” held in segregation at HMP Bronzefield, Surrey, after prison guards allegedly found a breakout plot in her diary.

Her counsel, Hugh Southey QC, argued that the segregation was taking a heavy toll on Dennehy, leaving her ‘tearful and upset’ and ‘vulnerable’ to self-harming.

But the murderer was described by Jenni Richards QC, for the prison, as “arguably the most dangerous female prisoner in custody”.

Mr Justice Singh dismissed her claim for compensation, saying her “segregation has, at all material times, been reasonable and therefore lawful at common law.”

One of only three women given a whole life sentence with no hope of release the serial killer was unlawfully locked up for two years, he ruled.

However, he said that being kept in solitary confinement was only unlawful between September 2013 and 2015 because it was not authorised by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in accordance with prison rules.

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In February 2014, Dennehy, of Peterborough, was given an all-life sentence for the murder of three men and stabbing of 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.

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

Tom Weisselberg, QC for the Justice Department told the court at a hearing in March: “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.”

The judge rejected her claim that the segregation was in breach of her rights not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Nor was it in breach of her rights to equal treatment. But although there was a breach of her Article 8 rights for the two-year period it was not lawful, there was no irrationality in her treatment, the judge added.

He said since September 2015 her segregation “has been in accordance with the law, and has, at all material times, been necessary and proportionate.”

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

After the High Court ruling, Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson described the case as an “affront” to Dennehy’s victims.

He 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.”

Dennehy is considering an appeal.