TIMELINE: HOW GARY ALLEN WAS ABLE TO KILL TWO WOMEN 21 YEARS APART AND GET AWAY WITH IT
1997: Murdered mother-of-three Samantha Class in Hull
2000: Allen cleared of the murder of Ms Class
2000: Allen attacked two sex workers in 2000 in Plymouth, just weeks after he was acquitted
2002: In an interview with probation officers, he told them. After he was jailed for those attacks, he told a probation officer about his dislike of sex workers and women in general.
2003: Criminal Justice Act 2003 ended the age-old bar against double jeopardy, which held that no-one could be tried again for the same crime. But the law change set a high bar for any double jeopardy application, saying there had to be ‘compelling new evidence’.
2010-2011: Allen made confessions to an undercover police officer
2010: Humberside Police launched an elaborate undercover operation to assess the danger posed by Allen
Boxing Day 2018: Murdered mother-of-four Alena Grlakova in Rotherham
January 2019: Ms Grlakova was reported missing
April 2019: South Yorkshire Police launches investigation into the death of Ms Grlakova after she is found in a stream
2019: Acquittal was overturned after ‘compelling’ new evidence was personally presented to Appeal Court judges by Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC
June 2021: Allen is found guilty of both murders
A ‘dangerous and violent’ killer who hated women and went on to murder a second time after confessing to undercover police has finally been brought to justice.
Gary Allen, a ‘despicable’ man who hated sex workers, will be sentenced next week for the murders of mother-of-three Samantha Class in Hull in 1997 and mother-of-four Alena Grlakova in Rotherham 21 years later.
He was cleared by a jury in 2000 of murdering Ms Class, a prostitute, but after walking free from court attacked two sex workers in Plymouth and was jailed.
After his release, Allen returned to Humberside – where in 2010 police launched an undercover operation to assess the threat he posed to women.
The killer was befriended by an undercover officer and admitted strangling Ms Class, 29, and dumping her body in the river in 1997, conversations that were covertly recorded. Her body was later found by schoolchildren on the banks of the Humber.
Despite a law on ‘double jeopardy’ – allowing suspects to be tried twice for serious offences – coming into force in 2003, prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence to apply for the original acquittal to be overturned in a bid to try him for murder again.
Allen then went on to murder Ms Grlakova, 38, a Slovakian sex worker who was last seen alive on Boxing Day 2018. Her body was found in a stream in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, the following April.
Detectives found evidence linking Allen to Ms Grlakova and a recording he made threatening her with violence. After this, lawyers decided that there was enough evidence to charge the killer with the second murder as well as apply to the Appeal Court to try him for a second time for the murder of Ms Class.
The acquittal was overturned in 2019 after evidence was presented to judges by Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC. Allen will now be given a mandatory life sentence next Wednesday after jurors at Sheffield Crown Court found him guilty for both murders.
Mr Hill said: ‘Frankly, it’s hard to find any other word for him than evil.’
Allen has a history of violence against sex workers and had told a probation officer: ‘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.’
Sheffield Crown Court heard harrowing details of how the body of Ms Class, who was working in the sex industry, was found by children on the banks of the Humber in October 1997. Prosecutors said she had been ‘brutally murdered’ as she had been stamped on, strangled with a ligature and run over with a car.
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. She had been strangled.
She was from Slovakia and moved to the UK in 2008 but, after becoming estranged from her husband and starting work in the sex industry, she met Allen at a bus stop.
They saw each other on a number of occasions and, on Boxing Day 2018, Ms Grlakova turned up at Allen’s flat and he angrily told her to leave. In what police called a ‘chilling’ recording that Allen made of their conversation, he told Ms Grlakova that if she came back again, he would ‘beat the living s**t out of her’.
The court heard how Allen attacked two sex workers in 2000 in Plymouth, just weeks after he was acquitted of Ms Class’s murder.
It was after he was jailed for those attacks that 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. He told one of the undercover officers how a sex worker had got angry with him ‘so I strangled her and dumped her in the Humber’.
The jury was told this was the ‘clearest possible admission’ to his killing of Ms Class.
Ms Class left three children, Sophia, Aiden and Lewis. Speaking outside court today, Sophia said: ‘For the people who suffered after my mum’s death, and most importantly for her, we finally have justice after 24 years.’
She said: ‘For those who knew my mum, she was a million beautiful things. She imprinted on everyone’s heart who met her. Because of Gary Allen, my mum violently and brutally lost her whole life and our lives were turned upside down.
Pictured: Gary Allen, 47, has been found guilty of murdering two sex workers 21 years apart
Gary Allen murdered Samantha Class in 1997 (right) in Hull and Alena Grlakova (left) in 2018
Pictured: Sophia Class (pictured outside Sheffield Crown Court today), the daughter of victim, Samantha Class, said her family was broken into pieces after her mother’s death in 1997
DPP ‘SO CONCERNED’ OVER ACQUITTAL HE PERSONALLY APPLIED FOR ‘EVIL’ ALLEN RETRIAL
Double murderer Gary Allen has been described as ‘evil’ by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who personally led the moves to quash his acquittal for killing Samantha Class.
Max Hill QC said he was so concerned about the murder of Ms Class that he presented the case for a retrial of Allen to the Court of Appeal himself.
And Mr Hill has rejected suggestions that this application could have been made earlier, before Allen killed Alena Grlakova in 2018.
He said: ‘In Allen we have an individual who is exceptionally devious in his attitude towards the crimes that he committed.
‘Frankly it’s hard to find any other word for him than evil.’
He said: ‘When we were presented by the police with a combination of the new and compelling evidence, we realised that we had enough to make an exceptional application to the Court of Appeal under the new law.
‘I was so interested and concerned in this case that I decided to go to the Court of Appeal myself and presented the case to the judges personally.’
Mr Hill said: ‘I need to emphasise that it’s not in every case that we’re able to go to the Court of Appeal.
‘The test that the law now sets is a very high one. In almost every case the law means that, once a jury has pronounced a not guilty verdict, there can never be a second chance.’
Gary Allen was cleared of murdering Ms Class by a jury in 2000 and his retrial was only possible when the Criminal Justice Act 2003 ended the age-old bar against double jeopardy, which held that no-one could be tried again for the same crime.
But the law change set a high bar for any double jeopardy application, saying there had to be ‘compelling new evidence’.
Mr Hill explained how the application to set aside Allen’s 2000 acquittal was unusual because most double jeopardy cases involve compelling new evidence provided by advances in DNA forensics.
The DPP said that in Allen’s case there were four new strands of evidence which did not involve any new scientific input.
The first were Allen’s attacks on two women in Plymouth within weeks of his acquittal. The second was concerning comments he made to probation officers after he was jailed for these attacks. The third was the confessions he made to an undercover police officer in 2010 and 2011. And the fourth was the similar murder of Ms Grlakova.
Mr Hill said: ‘We needed all four strands to satisfy the statutory tests to make for success in this case.’
‘Our family unit was broken into pieces, and so many memories as a family taken away in one night.’
In a statement issued on behalf of all of Alena Grlakova’s friends and family, her husband, Viliam Grlak, said: ‘The verdict will not reduce the pain and suffering that we have had to endure since Alena was so cruelly taken from us but it does give us the justice that we hoped to achieve.’
Detective Chief Inspector Christine Calvert, who led the recent investigation for Humberside Police, said: ‘It is clear how dangerous Gary Allen is, particularly to women, which is why he is now exactly where he belongs, in prison.’
Allen’s conviction is the culmination of more than 20 years of investigations which included a two-year undercover operation involving a total of seven police officers.
Humberside Police were so concerned about the danger Allen posed to women that they built a world around him populated by police officers posing as his friends plus their girlfriends and family.
And this huge investment in Operation Misty paid dividends when Allen confessed to the murder of Ms Class to an officer named in court only as Ian.
The recording of Allen’s confession to Ian was crucial when the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully applied to the Court of Appeal to quash the not guilty verdict reached by a jury in 2000. It was also a central plank of the case which led to his eventual conviction.
The jury heard that Operation Misty began in 2010 when Allen returned to live in the Humberside Police area after being released from prison.
Allen was recorded in December 2010 telling Ian that a sex worker had threatened to report him for rape if he did not pay her ‘so I strangled her … and dumped her in the Humber’. Prosecutors said this was the ‘clearest possible admission to the defendant’s guilt in murdering Samantha Class’.
In February 2011 Allen again referred to killing Ms Class, saying he ‘just went f****** mad’.
Ms Calvert was not involved in the undercover operation a decade ago but said: ‘It would have been a huge decision.’
She added: ‘It was a two-year operation and they used seven different undercover officers. They all played varied parts in the operation.’
The senior detective said an officer called Scott was the first to befriend Allen when he moved into a nearby flat. But it was later decided to bring in Ian to get closer by pretending to be an experienced offender on the run from other criminals.
Ms Calvert said: ‘There were others on the periphery, like girlfriends and family members, that were brought in to build up the story.’
She went on: ‘Gary Allen was a loner, so you had to be very dedicated. We obviously had highly-trained officers but they had to be really dedicated over a long period of time to keep that relationship going.’
She said Ian did ‘a fantastic job and deserves every commendation going’.
Asked why Humberside Police were so determined to put Allen behind bars despite his 2000 acquittal, Ms Calvert said: ‘I think it was the risk he posed to the public over that period of time. It was just getting justice, really, for the family. Samantha’s daughter was only 10 when it happened.
‘All three of Samantha’s children have grown up without a mother and it was getting that justice for them, really.’
Ms Calvert said Ms Class’s daughter had spent more than 20 years wondering where Allen was and what he was doing.
‘Now he’s behind bars and, hopefully, for the rest of his life or for a very long time, I think that will be a little bit of closure for her,’ she said. The detective added: ‘It’s a fantastic result.
‘We’ve worked really hard over the last two years to try and bring Gary Allen to justice. He deserves to be brought to justice and he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. I think he’s a very dangerous man, especially to women. He’s got a deep-seated hatred of particularly sex workers.’
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton, who led the investigation into Ms Grlakova’s killing for South Yorkshire Police, said Allen was a ‘despicable, violent man’.
Mr Oughton said: ‘I think Gary Allen’s a very dangerous individual and I think he would have gone on to attack other people if he had not been convicted today.’
Police forces around the UK are being asked to look at unsolved cases in the wake of the conviction, which has raised questions over whether the 47-year-old might have been responsible for further violence.
Although Allen spent the best part of a decade in prison following the Plymouth attacks, he was free until he was arrested over Ms Grlakova’s disappearance in 2019 and was known to have moved around the UK.
Mr Oughton told the PA news agency: ‘This is a concern for us too. We’ve mapped Gary Allen’s movements when he’s been at liberty throughout that period and we’ve worked closely with the National Crime Agency’s analytical section to find out what other offences were in those areas at that time.
‘What we’re now going to do is to write to individual forces to make them aware that Gary Allen was in the area at that time and ask them to review any crimes that were in that area at that time.’
Mr Oughton said: ‘I think Gary Allen’s a very dangerous individual and I I think he would have gone on to attack other people if he had not been convicted today.’
The senior detective said South Yorkshire Police’s investigation into the death of Ms Grlakova is one of its largest for many years. Mr Oughton said the inquiry began as an investigation into Ms Grlakova’s disappearance, which was reported in early January 2019.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton (South Yorkshire Police) and Detective Chief Inspector Christine Calvert (Humberside Police) outside Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon
Allen, a ‘despicable’ man who hated sex workers, will be sentenced next week for the murders of mother-of-three Samantha Class in Hull in 1997 and mother-of-four Alena Grlakova in Rotherham 21 years later
And he said his team recovered 37,000 hours of footage and investigated 125 sightings. He said he became extremely concerned when its became clear Ms Grlakova had had ‘significant contact’ with Allen.
Mr Oughton said his concern grew in April 2019 when his team found ‘very disturbing, very chilling’ voice recordings capturing Allen threatening Ms Grlakova and he declared it a murder inquiry.
Ms Grlakova’s body was found in a Rotherham stream that April – four months after she went missing – and questions have been raised about why it took police so long to find the body.
Mr Oughton said the area had been searched but not the watercourse and it was very well concealed in the stream bed. He said: ‘I fully appreciate there would have been concerns among the public. I just want to stress the complexity of the investigation.
‘This was not a murder investigation until April, 125 sightings had to be investigated, we had to look at CCTV of those sightings, house-to-house, visit witnesses, etc.
‘There was obviously a massive area to be searched around those sightings so that area that was searched was one of many that had been searched.
‘And it was only following the declaration of a murder inquiry and Gary Allen as a suspect that we started to refocus and found that the stream in Parkgate needed to be searched.
‘It was as part of that review that South Yorkshire Police unfortunately found Alena. She had been very well concealed in the stream bed.’
Mr Oughton said Ms Grlakova had come to the UK from Slovakia to make a better life for herself and her four children, but had fallen on hard times.
The detective said: ‘Alena was a mother with four children, she was a daughter, she was a sister. She was wanting to go back to Slovakia and to start her life and get back to the person she was.
‘Unfortunately, that night she was vulnerable. She went to Gary Allen’s address and that’s the night I believe he murdered her.’
Mr Oughton said: ‘I welcome the conviction today of Gary Allen but my thoughts, the thoughts of South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police are with the two families.
‘Alena’s family have had to wait two-and-a-half years for justice. Samantha Class’s family have had to over two decades.’
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