A dangerous and violent Rotherham man has been found guilty of murdering two women, 21 years apart.
Gary Allen strangled mother-of-four Alena Grlakova to death in 2018 and later dumped her naked body in a stream in Parkgate.
Two decades previously, he had murdered Hull woman Samantha Class and deposited her body in the Humber estuary, where she was later discovered by schoolchildren.
At Sheffield Crown Court today, a jury found 47-year-old Allen unanimously guilty of both brutal crimes.
Allen's conviction for the murder of Alena follows the biggest investigation by South Yorkshire Police's Major Crime Unit in recent years.
Alena, 38, was last seen alive on Boxing Day 2018 and was reported missing to the force on 15 January 2019.
Following a significant missing person inquiry, her body was found in a stream called the Old Slaugh, on land just off Taylors Lane.
DCI Mark Oughton, the senior investigating officer, said: "After our murder inquiry was launched, my team - and all those we worked with – were determined to secure justice for Alena's family and loved ones.
"I am pleased with today's conviction of Gary Allen and satisfied he faces a life sentence behind bars for what he did."
During a nine-week trial, a jury heard that Allen met Alena at a bus stop when he was on his way to work in October 2018.
Alena was from Slovakia and had moved to the UK in 2008, settling in Rotherham with her husband and children. Sadly, her marriage ended, she lost contact with her children and her lifestyle became more chaotic. As a result, she started to take drugs and become involved in the sex industry.
The trial heard Allen saw Alena on a number of occasions after their initial meeting, with Alena showing up uninvited at his flat several times asking for food and money.
On Boxing Day 2018, Alena had turned up at Allen's flat twice and both times he had told her angrily to leave because he did not want her there.
In a chilling audio recording that Allen made of their conversation, he told Alena that if she came back again, he would 'beat the living s*** out of her'.
DCI Oughton said: "Tragically, I believe Alena did return once more and it was then that this despicable, violent man strangled her to death. In the audio recordings, Alena can be heard asking Allen for some water. She was hungry, thirsty, cold and asking him to help her.”
The MCU’s investigations revealed that after he killed Alena, Allen searched the internet for trowels and shovels, and downloaded Google Earth in an attempt to locate a suitable site to deposit her body nearby. Work with world class GPS experts was also able to prove that he had been to 'scout out' the deposition site the next day.
Then overnight on 28 December, Allen took Alena's body to the Old Slaugh and concealed her there in the water, covering her up with grit and stone.
As the murder investigation progressed, the SYP team joined forces with Humberside Police, which had investigated the 1997 Samantha Class murder. Both cases were brought together for court in a double murder trial that also included an element of double jeopardy - as Allen had previously been tried for Samantha's murder and acquitted.
Both Alena and Samantha were known to be involved in sex work. Sheffield Crown Court has previously heard that Allen had a deeply-held hatred and contempt for sex workers, and had in the past called them 'scum' and the 'lowest of the low'. He had also previously told a probation officer that women are 'easy targets', not the least because they are 'physically weaker' than men.
DCI Oughton said: "Although today's conviction will hopefully bring Alena's family some closure, we know it will never bring her back. Alena was a mother of four children. A daughter, a sister and friend.
"At the time of her death she was making plans to return to Slovakia to make a fresh start. Allen cruelly and violently took Alena's life from her just as she was making plans for a brighter future."
Allen was convicted by the jury of two counts of murder. He will be sentenced on Wednesday 23 June.