A man carried out a “sustained and forceful” attack on a [prostituted woman] in Leeds before spending the money he stole from her on takeaways, drugs and cigarettes, a court has heard.
A jury at Leeds crown court heard how, wearing steel-capped boots, 24-year-old Lewis Pierre battered 21-year-old Daria Pionko to death shortly after 10.40pm on 22 December in the UK’s first managed red light district in the Holbeck area of Leeds.
The scheme introduced by Leeds city council in October 2015 allows [prostituted women] to operate in a designated area on the edge of the city centre between 7pm and 7am without fear of being arrested.
CCTV captured Pierre walking towards an area of wasteland with Pionko at around 10.40, before being spotted leaving the scene alone less than five minutes later. He has admitted robbery and manslaughter, but denies murder.
Pierre, who was working as an assistant to a heavy goods driver, then allegedly bought a meal of kebab meat and chips, four cans of drink, and cigarettes with money he robbed from Pionko. Colleagues say Pierre turned up to work the next day in possession of cannabis.
Pionko, who had moved to the UK from Łódź in Poland 10 months previously, was found lying face down and lifeless by her housemate Karolina Szajnda, who was also [a prostituted woman].
Pionko had suffered serious injuries to her face, head, neck and body. Szajnda described her friend’s face as having been “massacred”. The postmortem concluded that Pionko had died within 30 minutes of the attack.
Opening the case, Kama Melly QC, prosecuting, said: “On 22 December 2015, just three days before Christmas, Daria Pionko and her close friend Karolina went out to earn money in Leeds as [prostituted women]. They went off to have sex with [johns] before meeting to carry on working. Karolina went off with a [john] and when she returned Daria was nowhere to be seen. She eventually found her lying in a secluded spot. Daria had been subjected to a sustained attack.”
Melly said Pierre had set off from “a hard day’s shift” with no money. “It is the prosecution’s case he was determined to find some money that night,” she said.
Melly added: “[Pierre] denies he intended to cause [Pionko] death or cause her serious injury … The prosecution is confident that his intention to cause really serious harm to Daria will be proved against Lewis Pierre by the evidence you will hear in this trial.”
The court heard that Pionko’s family had not known she was a [prostituted woman] and thought she was working at a bar in Leeds. The trial continues.