South Yorkshire woman Alena Grlakova’s killer, Gary Allen, jailed for at least 37 years
Gary Allen has been told he must serve a minimum of 37 years in prison for murdering two women more than 20 years apart by a judge who said what he did was "wicked".
Allen, 47, was jailed for life on Wednesday for killing mother-of-three Samantha Class in Hull in 1997, and mother-of-four Alena Grlakova in Rotherham in 2018.
He had been cleared of the murder of Ms Class in 2000, but this acquittal was overturned in 2019 after "compelling" new evidence was personally presented to Appeal Court judges by Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC.
Sentencing Allen, the judge, Mr Justice Goose, said: "It would not be an overstatement to say that what you did to those two women, and the loss and suffering to their families, was wicked."
The judge rejected a suggestion from the prosecution that Allen should be given a whole-life tariff but, setting the minimum term, he said: "I doubt it will ever be safe to release you into the community."
Addressing the "brutal, callous murder" of Ms Class, the judge said: "You thought you had got away with that murder but today your past has caught up with you."
He said: "You are an extremely dangerous man with a long-held, deep-seated and warped view of women, particularly of sex workers."
A jury heard harrowing details of how the body of 29-year-old Ms Class, who was working in the sex industry, was found by children on the banks of the Humber in October 1997.
The judge said on Wednesday: "You attacked her with savage violence, including using a ligature to strangle her to death and your car to drive over her."
He described how she had 33 different injuries and said: "It was a brutal, callous murder of a woman you thought had no value because she was a sex worker."
Ms Grlakova's body was found naked in a stream in Rotherham in April 2019, four months after she was last seen on Boxing Day 2018. The 38-year-old had been strangled.
She was from Slovakia and moved to the UK in 2008 but, after becoming estranged from her husband and children, she started work in the sex industry.
The judge said to Allen: "Perhaps, for a while, you thought you had got away with another murder. The jury in this trial have made sure that you have not."
The court heard how Allen attacked two sex workers in 2000 in Plymouth, just weeks after he was acquitted of Ms Class's murder.
After he was jailed for those attacks, he told a probation officer about his dislike of sex workers and women in general, saying: "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."
In 2010, Humberside Police launched an elaborate undercover operation to assess the danger posed by Allen and he confessed to killing Ms Class to one of the team of officers who had built a fake world around him.
The judge singled out three of those officers - referred to as Ian, Sean and Scott - for "the highest commendation".
Ms Class left three children, Sophia, Aiden and Lewis.
Her daughter told the court of the pain Allen has inflicted on her family and asked for a letter to be read to court which she wrote to the police when she was 11 years old, after her mother was killed.
The letter detailed how she feared the murderer would come after her.
The judge told Allen: "This court, and the members of the public who have attended this hearing, has heard the moving statements made on behalf of the families of Samantha Class and Alena Grlakova.
"It has been their opportunity to tell you, Gary Allen, what you have done to them.
"The profound and lifelong grief which has been caused to them by your wicked murder of their mother, their wife, their sister or their daughter, is almost palpable."
Allen, who attended his sentencing hearing by video link from Wakefield Prison wearing a mask, denied killing either of the women but was found guilty of two counts of murder after two days of deliberation by a jury, which had heard eight weeks of evidence.
His barrister Kath Goddard QC admitted to the court it was "extremely unlikely to the point almost of impossibility that he will ever be considered for parole".
Earlier this month, the National Crime Agency said it was looking at unsolved attacks on sex workers for possible links to double murderer Allen.
A spokesman said: “The NCA’s Serious Crime Analysis Section and Major Crime Investigative Support team have been assisting South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police with advice and guidance on specific features of their investigations into Gary Allen.
“As part of our ongoing work, we will continue to assist forces in the consideration of historic unsolved cases that may be of interest and would appear to share some characteristics with those investigated here.”
There are two unsolved prostitute deaths in Sheffield, but Allen has been ruled out as a suspect for the most recent, in November 2001, because he was in prison at the time for attacks on two sex workers in Plymouth.
Michaela Hague, 25, from Pitsmoor, who was stabbed to death after being picked up by a man in a car on Bower Street, just off Corporation Street, and taken to a nearby isolated car park, where she was found a short time later with 19 stab wounds.
Allen was serving a five-and-a-half year sentence behind bars at the time and was released in 2003.
The other unsolved case in Sheffield dates back to 1994, when 19-year-old Dawn Shields was killed after getting picked up in a car in Broomhall – Sheffield’s red light district at the time.