Freedom bid is 3 years away for killer

RICHARD BALLS A bi-sexual killer who lured a teenage woman to remote Norfolk woodland and frenziedly stabbed her to death has been told she can seek her freedom in three years' time.


A bi-sexual killer who lured a teenage woman to remote Norfolk woodland and frenziedly stabbed her to death has been told she can seek her freedom in three years' time.

Maria Monica Hnatiuk was jailed for life at Norwich Crown Court in December 1996 after a jury found her guilty of the murder of 18-year-old student Rachael Lean near RAF Coltishall, in what remains one of Norfolk's most notorious criminal cases.

Yesterday, her tariff - the minimum number of years she must spend behind bars before being considered for parole - was set at 14 years by Mr Justice Wilkie after reviewing her case at London's Royal Courts of Justice.

It means Hnatiuk can seek parole in late 2009, but she will only be freed if she can convince the Parole Board that she no longer poses a danger to the public.

The judge said he had taken into account arguments made on Hnatiuk's behalf, suggesting that she had been given a longer sentence than necessary because of the high-profile nature of her trial.

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But he said she could have no complaints with 14 years and confirmed that he had read the victim impact statements from Ms Lean's father.

The original three-week trial heard that sex-obsessed Hnatiuk, then 29, was dominated by her boyfriend Ian Wells and that when he left her she pledged to destroy three people to win him back.

Psychiatrist Dr Henrietta Bullard told the court that Mr Wells displayed the symptoms of “a sadistic psychopath” and used Hnatiuk to make his own fantasies of punishment and killing come true.

Hnatiuk, who had entered a guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished respon-sibility, had murdered Ms Lean in a desperate last-ditch effort to be reunited with her former lover.

But the jury rejected this defence and after a separate investigation prompted by the trial, detectives decided not to charge Mr Wells in connection with the case.

Ms Lean, who was from Buxton, near Aylsham, was lured to woodland near RAF Coltishall, stabbed to death in a frenzied attack and her body hidden under a pile of leaves in September 1995.

A pathologist said he had found more than 50 cuts and slashes which would have been inflicted by a sharp, narrow-bladed knife, although the murder weapon was never found.

Jurors also listened as letters written by Hnatiuk and found dumped in a pond at Stratton Strawlesss were read out by the prosecution.

A suicidal love letter sent to Ian Wells pledged to cut links with the past, adding: “I can destroy one male here in Norwich, one female, and also one male in London.”

The letter read: “I have never loved anyone as I loved you, yet all I have brought you is pain. You won't grieve for me for long. You have a whole crowd of females clamouring to take my place. All I want to do is end my life.

“I'm sorry I wasn't a brunette or bigger busted. I might have had a chance with you then. What a disgrace I am to you.

“See you in the next life, if there is one.”

She also drew up bizarre contracts with him, promising to be his slave, and sent letters to women telling them about how she wanted to dominate them.

One letter sent to a woman called Erica said; “I can now say how much I love being controlled. It is a pity we didn't live closer as we could have become female lovers. As my servant you will do whatever I want to please me.”

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