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Gary Allen convicted of murdering two women in Yorkshire after double jeopardy trial

|News, Violent crime

A man has been found guilty of the brutal murders of two women twenty one years apart.

Gary Allen, 47, was convicted at Sheffield Crown Court today of the murders of 29-year-old Samantha Class in Hull in October 1997, and 38-year-old Alena Grlakova in Rotherham, South Yorkshire in December 2018. 

His conviction for the murder of Samantha, whose body was discovered on the foreshore of the River Humber, reversed a not guilty verdict delivered by a jury 21 years earlier.

The emergence of new and compelling evidence implicating Allen in her murder allowed the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, to argue in the Court of Appeal that the acquittal should be quashed.

That meant Allen could be tried for Samantha’s murder at the same time as he faced trial for the murder of Alena Grlakova, whose body was discovered in a stream in the Rotherham area.

Claire Lindley, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “Gary Allen has been found guilty of the murders of Samantha Class and Alena Grlakova. Both their families have now seen justice served.

“From the evidence presented to the court, it is clear that Allen is a dangerous individual who presents an obvious and immediate danger to women.

“Allen lived out his horrifying and violent sexual fantasies through planned, premeditated and brutal assaults on these two vulnerable women.

"Their lives were cut cruelly short and their families are serving their own life sentences of grief. Our thoughts remain with them."

The background to Samantha’s murder

In October 1997, Samantha Class’s body was discovered on the foreshore of the River Humber. She had been strangled with a ligature, and had suffered 33 injuries consistent with her body being punched and stamped on. This attack had caused massive internal injury. 

A tyre mark pattern of bruising on her right arm with only slight bleeding indicated she had been run over and then been briefly dragged by a vehicle immediately after death.

In July 1998, Gary Allen was stopped by the police on suspicion of drink driving, and a routine DNA sample was taken. This provided a match to DNA recovered from the body and clothing of Samantha Class.

In his police interview, Allen admitted having sex with Samantha on the night she disappeared, but denied her murder. At the time, Samantha was earning her living as a sex worker.  

Allen explained that a news report of the incident had caused him to sell his vehicle for scrap, as he felt he would be wrongly suspected of killing her.

However, investigations established that news reports on the day in question referred only to a missing persons enquiry rather than a murder, and at that point no photograph of Samantha Class had been circulated. 

Only someone involved in Samantha’s death would have been aware that she had died.

Allen was tried and acquitted of the murder of Samantha Class on 23 February 2000. Fewer than six weeks later, he assaulted two vulnerable women in the Plymouth area. He was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to five years and six months for these offences, with an extended licence period of four years and six months.

In prison he told probation workers that sex workers were ‘scum’ and ‘the lowest of the low’. He also admitted to having regular, violent fantasies involving sex workers, stating:  “ ...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."  He was released on licence in 2010.

The murder of Alena Grlakova in 2018

In April 2019 the body of Alena Grlakova, was discovered in a stream in the Rotherham area. She was naked and had been dead for some time. A post mortem examination established that she had died following compression of the neck.

Allen knew Alena Grlakova, who was earning her living as a sex worker. After they met at a bus stop in October 2018 she began to call at his flat, and Allen said they sometimes had sex and he gave her money and cigarettes.

As part of the police investigation into Alena’s disappearance, analysis of her telephone records revealed that she and Allen had been in touch with each other. Allen was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of breaking a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which prohibited him from having contact with sex workers.

Further police investigations revealed CCTV evidence of Alena visiting Allen on Boxing Day 2018. Electronic voice recordings made by Allen himself show him threatening serious violence to Alena and analysis of his computer revealed that he had conducted searches for digging tools.

He bought disposable gloves and a trowel, as well as subsequently searching news sites for reports of her disappearance.

Allen was arrested for the murder of Alena Grlakova two days after her body was discovered.

How the CPS overcame double jeopardy and brought the case back to court 

Setting aside a jury’s verdict and retrying someone for an offence they have already been found not guilty of is a serious step and one that is not undertaken often.

Before 2003 it was impossible, with ‘double jeopardy’ laws preventing anyone from being tried twice for the same crime.

But since then it has been possible for someone to face trial a second time if 'new and compelling' evidence emerges which was unavailable at the time of the original trial. Examples of 'new and compelling' could include the discovery of a body in a murder case, or DNA evidence strongly linking someone back to the crime.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has to give his or her consent to any any police re-investigation of someone who has been acquitted. The DPP also has to approve any subsequent attempt to go the Court of Appeal to persuade them to quash an acquittal.

In the case of Gary Allen, Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, personally took the evidence to the Court of Appeal, which heard arguments from the prosecution and Allen's defence.

Mr Hill pointed to similar attacks on two women in Plymouth in 2000 which Allen had carried out and evidence of admissions he made to probation officers whilst serving his sentence. These included that he fantasised about inflicting acts of extreme physical and sexual violence on women. Police discovered photographs on his phone in 2019 of corpses of women who had apparently died violent deaths.

He presented evidence of covertly recorded admissions to undercover officers in 2010 and 2011 of Allen apparently admitting he killed Samantha Class, which Mr Hill argued were relevant and admissible as evidence.

And tragically, the court heard evidence of the murder of Alena Grlakova, including that Allen had threatened her on the last night she was seen alive, when she visited his home.

Allen resisted the application throughout. 

But the ruling from Lord Justice Fulford, Mr Justice Picken and Mr Justice Spencer quashed Allen’s acquittal and opened the door for his retrial for the murder of Samantha Class.

Notes to editors

Gary Allen (DOB: 27/09/1973) was found guilty of:

  • The murder of Samantha Class
  • The murder of Alena Grlakova
  • Claire Lindley is Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Yorkshire and Humberside

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