Steel-toe robber guilty of murdering sex worker Daria Pionko

Lewis Pierre.
Lewis Pierre.

A steel toecapped boot-wearing robber has been found guilty of murdering a sex worker in a managed red light area close to Leeds city centre.

Daria Pionko was left bloodied and battered in a secluded area of Holbeck after suffering multiple injuries to her face, head, neck and body.

Daria Pionko, who was killed in the Holbeck managed zone in December.

Daria Pionko, who was killed in the Holbeck managed zone in December.

Leeds Crown Court heard Lewis Pierre, 24, wore steel toecap boots to inflict injuries on the 21-year-old Polish woman.

The jury was told Pierre stole cash from Miss Pionko during the attack on December 22 last year before using it to buy himself kebab and chips.

Ms Pionko had been living in the UK for 10 months before her death and her family believed she was working in bar.

Kama Melly, QC, prosecuting, said the killing took place in a “managed red light area.”

She said: “It is an arrangement with Leeds City Council that within set hours during the night-time, within a very specific area, that is not a residential area, that neither the sex workers nor the customers who went there for sex would be arrested.”

Pierre, of Miles Hill Street, Meanwood, had pleaded guilty to to manslaughter and robbery but denied murder.

The prosecutor told the jury of 10 women and two men that Pierre denied intending to cause Ms Pionko’s death or cause her serious injury when he carried out the attack.

Daria was found with serious injuries by her close friend on Springwell Road.

A post mortem examination revealed she had suffered fractures to her nose and facial bones. She also suffered bruising to her brain and deep bruising and scratches to her face and upper body.

The jury was told that the scratches to Daria’s body indicated she was attacked while on the ground and injuries were “heavily suggestive” of Pierre using his feet in the attack.

Daria’s blood was later found on a pair of steel toecap boots and a cardigan found by police at Pierre’s home.

Pierre had been working as a lorry driver’s mate for a distribution firm based in Holbeck.

The court heard he had arrived for work earlier in the day with no money and completed his shift without having anything to eat or drink. CCTV footage showed Pierre entering the area where Daria was attacked shortly after he finished his shift at 10pm.

Miss Melly said: “At this stage Lewis Pierre had no money, he had set off from working, having done a full day’s shift, working hard and was extraordinarily tired, thirsty and hungry.” She added: “It is the prosecution’s case that he was determined to obtain some money that night.”

The jury was told that Pierre left the scene after the attack.

He was later given a lift to a takeaway and bought a kebab and chips and drinks with money he had taken in the robbery. He then went to a petrol station to buy cigarettes.

Pierre told the court that it was his intention to rob Ms Pionko of cash as he made his way home from his shift working as a lorry driver’s assistant.

He said she went with him to a secluded area after agreeing to have sex with him for money. Pierre said he did not intend to have sex with her but was trying to find an opportunity to rob her.

He told the court that he punched Ms Pionko in “quick succession” to the face and head area after she began to struggle when he grabbed her handbag.

Pierre said Ms Pionko was dragged along the ground during the struggle.

He said: “I grabbed the bag and pulled it and she ended up coming with the bag and I hit her one more time.”

Pierre told the jury he took £80 from the bag before throwing it on the floor and running away.

Pierre’s barrister, Richard Wright, QC, asked his client: “As you left, as you ran away, was it within your contemplation that you might have killed her or injured her so badly that she would be hospitalised?” Pierre replied: “No.”

The jury had earlier heard that Pierre bought a kebab and chips, cigarettes and cannabis after the attack.

He told the court that he was not proud of the way he spent the money and felt “ashamed” when he learned that Ms Pionko had died.

Mr Wright asked Pierre: “Did you do all of those things with money that you had stolen from Daria?” He replied: “Yes.”