Sex Worker Killer 'Stole Her Money to Buy Food and Cannabis'

28 June 2016, 13:39 | Updated: 28 June 2016, 13:52

Murder Investigation Leeds

A lorry driver's assistant from Leeds who beat a sex worker to death in a managed red light area stole her money to buy takeaway food, cigarettes and cannabis, a jury has been told.

Lewis Pierre, 24, has admitted the manslaughter of Daria Pionko, whose battered body was found near Leeds city centre three days before Christmas last year.

But a jury was told that Pierre denied murdering the 21-year-old - a Polish national who came to the UK 10 months before she was killed.

Prosecutor Kama Melly QC said the victim's friend and fellow prostitute, who found Ms Pionko's badly injured body, described her face as "massacred''.

Opening the case at Leeds Crown Court, Ms Melly said it was likely Pierre had used his steel-toe-capped work boots to inflict some of the injuries.

The prosecutor explained how Ms Pionko had gone out to work with her friend on December 22 last year in the Holbeck area of Leeds.

She said this was in a "managed red light area'', which was a term, she said, that could cause confusion.

Ms Melly explained to the jury how this did not mean that prostitutes and their customers were "in some way checked in and out''.

Instead, she said, it 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.

This also allowed sex workers to access local services aimed at helping them, she said.

Ms Melly said that 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.

The prosecutor told the jury that, 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.

She said the defendant also stopped to buy cigarettes at a garage on his way to his home in the Meanwood area of Leeds.

The following day, Ms Melly said, Pierre turned up at work with money, cigarettes and some cannabis.

"The prosecution suggest that the money the defendant had spent on these things was clearly the money he had taken from Daria the night before,'' she said.

Ms Melly said the victim was found seriously injured by her friend who had become concerned when she did not return to their meeting point.

She said this woman, also a sex worker, turned her friend over and "described her face as massacred''.

The woman then flagged down a passing Leeds City Council security officer. 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.

Ms Melly said 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.

She said there had been at least seven blows and the injuries suggested some were inflicted when Ms Pionko was already on the ground.

The prosecutor said it was a "sustained and forceful attack upon her''.

She said she was left "beaten, bruised and fractured''.

Ms Melly said that Ms Pionko's family in Poland did not realise she was a sex worker, thinking that she worked in a bar in Leeds.

Pierre, from Meanwood, Leeds, has admitted robbery and manslaughter.

He denies murder.

The trial continues.