'Such a dangerous individual': Relief as double killer found guilty in historic Sheffield trial

The detective who led a double murder investigation which will go down in the history books has expressed relief that a double killer is facing life behind bars.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 12:18 pm

Gary Allen, aged 47, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court todayof two murders committed more than two decades apart – one in Rotherham after a woman disappeared on Boxing Day 2018 and was found dead four months later and one in Hull after another woman was killed in 1997.

He was found guilty of murdering both women at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday by a jury which deliberated for two days.

Alena Grlakova disappeared on Boxing Day 2018 and was found dead in a stream in Parkgate, Rotherham, four months later.

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Alena Grlakova was one of two women known to have been killed by Gary Allen
Alena Grlakova was one of two women known to have been killed by Gary Allen

Two decades earlier, in 1997, Samantha Class was found dead on the banks of the Humber estuary, near Hull.

Allen was charged and went on trial over the earlier murder but walked free in 2000...and then went on to kill again.

His trial in Sheffield is historic for being the first in South Yorkshire where a suspect has gone on trial twice for the same murder after being found not guilty the first time.

Normally suspects can only be tried for the same crime once if they are acquitted, but due to a change in legislation, suspects can now be tried twice if ‘new and compelling evidence’ comes to light.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton

Both of Allen’s victims were sex workers, for whom Allen is said to have borne a deep-seated hatred.

He has previous convictions for other attacks on prostitutes and detectives are now looking for possible links with other sex worker crimes.

There are two such killings on the books in Sheffield – one from November 2001, when 25-year-old Michaela Hague, from Pitsmoor, was stabbed to death on an isolated car park on the outskirts of Sheffield city centre.

The mum-of-one was picked up by a man in car on Bower Street, just off Corporation Street and found a short time later with 19 stab wounds.

This infographic shows the amount of work which went into the investigation into the murder of Alena Grlakova in Rotherham

In 1994, Dawn Shields, 19, was killed after getting picked up in a car in Broomhall – Sheffield’s red light district at the time.

Her body was found in a shallow grave a week later on the slopes of Mam Tor, Castleton, in the Peak District.

She had head injuries and had been strangled.

DCI Mark Oughton, who led the double murder probe, said there is nothing to suggest Allen is a suspect in the unsolved Sheffield murders but any potential links to any crimes involving sex workers anywhere in the country ‘will continue to be investigated further’.

The senior detective, with 29 years’ experience, described the double murder probe as a once in a career case.

He said he is pleased that such a ‘dangerous individual’ is now behind bars and said the streets of the UK are now safer without him.

DCI Oughton said his thoughts remain with the families of both his victims and he is pleased that justice has finally been served.

He took on the huge case as a missing person enquiry at first when Alena disappeared before it progressed to a murder investigation and then a double death probe.

Alena, 38, was born and brought up in Slovakia and moved to the UK in 2008, living with her husband and four children.

She and her husband split in 2013 and ‘at something of a low point in her life’ she became embroiled in sex work.

Alena tragically crossed paths with Allen in the Parkgate area of Rotherham, where he moved to after he was acquitted of the earlier murder.

There were 125 reported possible sightings of Alena after she was reported missing, which each had to be checked out, before Alena’s naked body was found in a stream behind a pub – triggering a murder investigation.

To demonstrate the scale of the probe, police chiefs have revealed that 528 witness statements were gathered, 37,624 hours of CCTV footage was seized and 232 police officers were involved.

DCI Oughton said Allen ‘featured quite early on’ in the investigation because of his known history and the fact he lived close to where Alena was last seen alive.

He had been issued with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order after two earlier attacks on sex workers, and was banned from contact with them, but phone records linking him to Alena proved he had breached that order, giving detectives an opportunity to arrest him.

At that time, detectives did not know if Alena was dead or alive, if she had been trafficked elsewhere in the country or abroad or if she had gone back to her home in Slovakia.

All possible scenarios needed to be explored.

Forensic work on Allen’s phone revealed that he had used some ‘clearing software’ to clean up his browsing history and some ‘chilling’ voice recordings were found where he was heard making ‘quite clear threats that he was going to cause her harm’ – evidence used by detectives to treat him as a murder suspect.

Detectives then joined forces with colleagues in Humberside Police when similarities between Alena’s and Samantha’s death were noted.

In an undercover operation, Allen confessed to having killed a woman a dumping her body in ‘The Drink’ – a local term for the water where Samantha’s body was found.

In 2002, Allen was interviewed by probation officers and ‘spoke openly about his strong dislike of sex workers and of his dislike and distrust of women in general’.

Alistair MacDonald QC, who prosecuted his case at Sheffield Crown Court, said: “He described sex workers as being ‘scum’ and ‘the lowest of the low’.”

The prosecutor said Allen told one probation officer: “I like to frighten them. I like to cause pain. I like to make them cry. I like blood. I like to hurt them. I enjoy it. It makes me feel good.”

Mr MacDonald said the defendant outlined fantasies about beating a naked sex worker with his hands and a bat.

Speaking after his conviction, DCI Oughton said: “Gary Allen is a very dangerous individual. He has murdered two women over two decades.

“Extensive work to build a full picture of his movements over a number of years was carried out.

“He had a clear hatred of sex workers.

“I am very pleased with the verdicts, Alena’s family has had to wait two-and-a-half years for justice and Samantha’s has had to wait for over two decades.

“A dangerous individual is hopefully facing a significant life sentence, which will make the streets of the UK safer.”