Notorious serial killer went on run in Norfolk

Joanna Dennehy. Photo credit: Cambridgeshire Police/PA Wire

Joanna Dennehy. Photo credit: Cambridgeshire Police/PA Wire - Credit: PA

One of Britain's most notorious women killers was lying low in Norfolk over a busy holiday weekend while on the run after committing three murders, it can be revealed.

Thorney Dyke, Bodies found. Picture: Steve Williams

Thorney Dyke, Bodies found. Picture: Steve Williams - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk police officer gave murder squad officers hunting for Joanna Dennehy, pictured, the 'golden nugget' to bring the reign of terror to an end.

Earlier this year Dennehy, 31, was ordered to spend the rest of her life in prison for murdering three men before randomly selecting and attempting to kill two others.

Dennehy admitted the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, in and around Peterborough over a 10-day period last March.

Police launched a nationwide hunt to find her and the EDP can reveal she spent time in Norfolk with her accomplice Gary Stretch over the Easter weekend last year.

The man who led the murder investigation has revealed he will be writing to Norfolk's chief constable to express his gratitude in relation to the call received from the Norfolk officer.

Without the help, her 'devastating' spree might have been allowed to carry on.

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The Norfolk officer told Det Chief Insp Martin Brunning that they had CCTV footage from a theft at a petrol station at Aylmerton of a woman who, like Dennehy, had a distinctive tattoo on her face.

Det Chief Insp Brunning said: 'He gave me the registration number and we then formally linked that vehicle and the one Dennehy and Stretch had been on the run in.'

'It was that massively important phone call from a PC at North Walsham who said 'I've got this registration, what do you think?' We took that back to the incident room and it proved to be the vehicle. We knew from intelligence that the vehicle was already travelling towards Worcestershire.'

He said the significance of that call was that they then knew where she was and were able to inform colleagues in West Mercia police who then apprehended her after she had repeatedly stabbed two dog walkers in Hereford.

Det Chief Insp Brunning, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said cell site analysis from the mobile phone of Mr Chapman, whose phone Dennehy had taken, showed she and Stretch had been in Norfolk following the discovery of Mr Lee's body on March 30 and prior to her arrest on April 2.

He said: 'We know that they headed off out of Cambridge through Suffolk and then around the Sudbury area before starting to converge north and ended up around Cromer on the Saturday evening. They came back into Cambridge on Sunday and stayed there for a couple of nights.'

Dennehy and Stretch travelled into Norfolk on the A140 and used the A148 coast road to travel into the Cromer and were 'in and around the towns around Cromer for a period of time that weekend.'

Det Chief Insp Brunning said the shoplifting offence at Aylmerton was typical of the type of 'subsistence crime' the two of them were perpatrating at the time.

He said: 'Stretch is driving, the vehicle pulls into the petrol station forecourt and she gets out. There's some footage from inside the shop of various things being picked up, she just leaves with it jumps in the vehicle and Stretch speeds off back towards Cromer.'

The Norfolk officer had been aware of the images released of Dennehy and Stretch after the discovery of Mr Lee's body discovered in a ditch.

Det Chief Insp Brunning said: 'There's no doubt in my mind she would've become more grotesquely violent much more quickly. That sums up the real significance of the call from Norfolk.

'I'm going to be writing to the chief constable of Norfolk to express my gratitude. The significance of the link made by Norfolk Constabulary was such that we were able for the first time in probably 72 hours, have some control again over Dennehy's movements as someone wanted for murder.

'Without that telephone call the consequences of her extended freedom could've been absolutely devastating.'