Mercy Shawn Mendes
4 July 2016, 15:37
A man's who beat a sex worker to death in a managed red light area has been found guilty of her murder.
Lewis Pierre, 24, killed Daria Pionko, 21, and stole her money to buy takeaway food, cigarettes and cannabis, the trial at Leeds Crown Court heard.
Her battered body was found near Leeds city centre three days before Christmas last year.
Her friend and fellow prostitute described her face as "massacred'' and it is believed Pierre used steel-toe-capped work boots to inflict some of the injuries.
The defendant admitted charges of robbery and manslaughter before the trial.
The jury of 10 women and two men took less than two hours to find him guilty of murder.
As the foreman returned the unanimous verdict, Miss Pionko's family sobbed in the public gallery and Pierre held his head in his hands.
Mr Justice Goss thanked the jury for their care and attention and adjourned sentencing until Tuesday afternoon.
He said: "He has previous convictions for offences of battery and robbery. He will obviously be sentenced to life imprisonment.''
Pierre left the dock as the judge discussed sentencing and loudly slammed the door open as he walked out.
The dock officer told the judge: "He didn't want to be here any more.''
Ms Pionko, a Polish national who came to the UK 10 months before she was killed, had gone out to work with her friend on December 22 last year in a managed red light area in Holbeck, Leeds.
The jury heard that this was an area away from schools and housing for which Leeds City Council and the police had drawn up an agreement so prostitutes and clients could operate without being arrested.
Sex workers in the area also have access to local services aimed at helping them.
On the day of the murder, Pierre had worked a day-long shift helping a delivery driver who told police the defendant had no money with him and had eaten no food all day.
After attacking Ms Pionko and leaving her in a secluded spot in the red light area, he got a lift from a friend, stopping to buy kebab meat and chips with four cans of drink at a takeaway.
He also stopped to buy cigarettes at a garage on the way to his home in the Meanwood area of Leeds.
The following day, Pierre turned up at work with money, cigarettes and some cannabis.
The victim was found seriously injured by her friend who had become concerned when she did not return to their meeting point.
She flagged down a passing Leeds City Council security officer and police and paramedics were called but Ms Pionko was pronounced dead in hospital later that night.
A post-mortem examination found that Ms Pionko suffered injuries to her face, neck and body, including bruising to her brain and fractures to her face.
The court heard it was likely that Pierre had used his feet in the attack and the victim's blood was found on his steel-toe-capped boots.
There had been at least seven blows and the injuries suggested some were inflicted when Ms Pionko was already on the ground.
Pierre will be sentenced on Tuesday afternoon.