A murderer was told he had committed an act of ‘callous and cruel triumphalism’ as he daubed the words: “It was me” on his girlfriend’s leg after stabbing her to death.
Daniel Grant Smith, 41, and partner Imogen Bohajczuk, 29, had been in a relationship for a number of months which was characterised by alcohol abuse and violence.
Following an argument in February this year, Smith, of Oldham, attacked his girlfriend, beating her then stabbing her with a kitchen knife.
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He then moved her body to the bedroom, put her on the bed, and positioned her next to a soft toy and holding a bottle of perfume.
He then wrote in red nail varnish: “It was me”.
He told the police he did this as he ‘thought it was right’ and was his confession to the brutal murder.
A judge rejected this and told him: “If you had wanted to make clear to the police what you had done, you could have gone to them and told them.
“This act looks like an act of callous and cruel triumphalism.”
After leaving her body, Smith went on to use her bank card and mobile phone, emptying her bank account on buying alcohol.
It wasn’t until a housing officer made a welfare check, that Ms Bohajczuk was discovered.
Smith pleaded guilty to her murder and was jailed for life to serve a minimum term of 17-and-a-half years in prison.
Addressing Smith, who sat in the dock wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a grey jumper, Judge Patrick Field QC told him: “You are 41 years old.
“On 20th July 2021 you pled guilty to the murder of Imogen Bohajczuk, a woman with whom you were in an abusive relationship.
“As I told you at the time, there is only one sentence that the law provides for the offence of murder and that is life imprisonment.
“It remains my task, however, to decide upon the appropriate minimum period that you will spend in gaol before the Parole Board can consider whether you are safe to be released.
“To do that I must assess the seriousness of the offence.
“It seems likely that you killed Imogen on or after 18th February.
“That was the date when she called the police and she sent messages to a former partner complaining of being assaulted by you.
“There is no evidence of her surviving beyond that date."
The judge said that Ms Bohajczuk had met her death following a 'brutal and ferocious attack'
He said she had received a 'terrible beating' causing bruises to her face and head and upper limbs, as she 'tried to fend off his attack'.
There was also evidence of strangulation, he said.
“The fatal injuries were multiple stab wounds, at least two of which were delivered with sufficient force – severe force – to penetrate bone," he continued.
“These injuries were inflicted by you.
“On her right leg you had daubed the words, “It was me” in red nail varnish.
“This macabre graffiti is said to be some kind of confession by you; a sign to the police that you were responsible for the killing.
“I reject that notion utterly.
“If you had wanted to make clear to the police what you had done, you could have gone to them and told them.
“This act looks like an act of callous and cruel triumphalism.
“There was cruelty here because you desecrated the body of the woman you had just killed in order to proclaim what you had just done.
“This act is inconsistent with any immediate remorse on your part.
“You then proceeded to make an attempt to tidy and clean up the murder scene and to leave Imogen’s flat without telling anyone what had happened.
“It is said that you laid Imogen out on her bed because that is what you thought was right.
“That is a grotesque irony.
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“There was nothing that you did on that day that can be described as right.
“As you fled the scene you took her phone and her bank card using both with impunity in the days that followed.
“It is said that you used the card to buy alcohol to fuel your own dependency.
“That reflects no credit upon you whatsoever.
“Imogen was still a young woman when she died.
“She was vulnerable having been a victim of domestic abuse and having struggled with her mental health and alcohol problems.
“At the time of her death she was in supported accommodation that had been provided to her because of her vulnerability.
“She was the mother of a young child.
“In killing Imogen you have deprived that child of a mother and Imogen’s parents and siblings have been deprived of a daughter and a sister.
“Their grief is palpable.
“You, I note, are a man with a significant history of domestic violence and abusive behaviour towards women.
“Your relationship with Imogen appears to have been violent and abusive too and the killing occurred in that context.
“Having regard to the provisions of Schedule 21 to the SA 2020, as I must, I am satisfied that the appropriate starting point, but not necessarily the finishing point for the minimum term is 15 years."
The judge listed a number of aggravating features which would increase the minimum term.
These were; a) The use of the knife and the force of the attack; b) The victim was particularly vulnerable and in an abusive relationship with him, a man with an established history of 'violently abusing vulnerable women'; c) She was murdered in her own home, a place where she was entitled to feel safe; d) His attempt to conceal what had happened, leaving the victim’s body covered up on the bed and the use of Imogen’s telephone and bank card, the latter involving emptying Imogen’s account stealing money to buy alcohol; and e) Writing on Imogen’s leg before he left her.
“As for mitigation, I find that you are not entitled to rely upon an absence of an intention to kill," he said.
“I conclude that you intended to kill Imogen.
“The number of stab wounds and the obvious force behind them confirm me in that conclusion.
“Second, I acknowledge the mental ill health that you have suffered and continue to suffer.
“This is described in Dr Brennan’s report that I have read.
“I am not satisfied, however, that your mental illness reduces your blameworthiness for what happened.
“It is suggested that you feel remorse for what you did.
“Only you will know whether that is genuine.
“Even if it is, however, the impact of any remorse is substantially reduced by what you did after you had killed Imogen.
“Nevertheless, I do accept that there was no premeditation.
“The personal mitigation does not amount to much in the context of this offence.
“Weighing these factors together, I have come to the conclusion that the minimum term should be increased by 6 years to 21 years.
“You pleaded guilty and are entitled to credit for that plea.
“The plea was not entered at the earliest opportunity but there has never been an issue that you were responsible for the death and it was reasonable for your lawyers to investigate your mental state and for Dr Brennan’s views to be sought.
“Your guilty plea was entered shortly after service of his report.
“In the circumstances I conclude that an appropriate reduction in the minimum term is 3.5 years.
“Accordingly the sentence for the murder of Imogen Bohajczuk is one of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17.5 years [less the 143 days spent on remand] thus, 17 years 40 days.
“The minimum term is the time that you will spend in gaol before the Parole Board can order your early release.
“Should the Parole Board decide that it is necessary for public protection to do so, you may be detained beyond that date.
“If, however, your early release is directed that is not the end of your sentence.
“For you will then remain on licence for the rest of your life liable to be returned to prison should you fail to comply with the terms of your licence.
“There will, in addition, be a statutory surcharge with a collection order.”
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