The sister of serial killer Joanna Dennehy has defended her parents and say drugs turned her older sibling from a middle-class young woman who dreamed of becoming a lawyer into a cold-hearted murderer.
Younger sister Maria says her parents tried to keep Joanna on the straight and narrow but cannabis – in particular its stronger skunk variety – led to her downfall.
The last time they met was in 2009 when Joanna was living in hovel in Cambridgeshire and barely recognisable from the sweet, protective older sister who used to sit in a tree with Maria teaching her song lyrics and their own secret language.
Neither she nor her parents have spoken to the mum of two since she was arrested following a killing spree in March last year. "Why would we?" Maria told the Mail on Sunday. "She washed her hands of us a long time ago. We don't talk about her, except on her birthday or when my mother recalls something nice about her from our childhood. Now that I'm a mother I can appreciate just how much my parents are going through. They did their best, but no amount of love from us could save Joanna."
The 31-year-old serial killer has admitted knifing landlord Kevin Lee, Lukasz Slabos-zewski and John Chapman to death and trying to kill two more victims in Herefordshire. Robin Bereza and John Rogers were attacked as they walked their dogs but survived and have been giving evidence at the trial of Gary 'Stretch' Richards and Leslie Layton, who deny helping to dispose of the bodies.
Maria, a 29-year-old IT engineer who joined the army after school and now has a seven-month-old daughter, says her father Kevin, 56, and shop manager mum Kathleen, 51, made sure the girls wanted for nothing. But she claims meeting John Treanor, who at 19 was five years Joanna's senior, was the catalyst for change and she started skipping school and running away.
She said: "Our parents were very protective of us. Perhaps they were a little too strict, but we were not beaten or abused in any way. They treated us the same, but it was Joanna who rebelled. No one can understand what went wrong.
"Everyone is speculating about why she turned out the way she did. I think the people, the drugs and the environment she went into triggered something dark inside her."
Treanor, the father of her two children, claimed the couple were forced into an itinerant lifestyle after Joanna's parents threw her out of their £315,000 four-bedroom home in St Albans, Hertfordshire. After she was convicted he said after nearly 14 years of putting up with her drinking and drugs, he fled with their children when she pulled out a knife and said she wanted to kill somebody.