A killer used red nail varnish to paint the words ‘it was me’ on his girlfriend’s body after stabbing her to death in a ‘brutal and ferocious’ attack.
The badly beaten body of Imogen Bohajczuk, 29, was discovered lying on her bed with multiple knife wounds when police were called to her flat in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on March 4.
Daniel Smith, 41, had killed her two weeks earlier before going on a spending spree with her bank card, emptying her account, before he was arrested in the early hours of March 5.
Officers called to the ‘grim scene’ found Ms Bohajczuk had been posed with her arms and legs crossed next to her favourite perfume and soft toy. Prosecutor Tim Storrie QC said: ‘Chillingly, an exhibition had been made of her body.’
It was only discovered when a support worker turned up at her flat for a welfare check.
Smith pleaded guilty to murder at Manchester Crown Court and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 and a half years.
The court heard that Ms Bohajczuk, who started seeing Smith late last year, was a ‘vulnerable woman’ who had a history of being a victim of domestic abuse.
Mr Storrie said there had been an ‘incidence of violence’ between Smith and one of Ms Bohajczuk’s former partners on February 15.
Three days later she texted her ex saying, ‘she was continuing to be the victim of physical abuse and that she thought she might be killed’, he added.
The prosecutor went on: ‘She sent messages in the afternoon that read: “Get him out of my house” and: “I thought I was going to die… He strangled me so much I nearly died and then he got a knife”.’
Ms Bohajczuk called the police twice that evening, telling the operator during the second call that Smith had left her home and she would not let him back in after he had ‘gripped her neck’.
She also messaged her former partner on WhatsApp again and sent photos of some of the injuries she had suffered.
The court heard he told her to go to the police, but never got a reply.
Detectives were later able to establish that over the next two weeks Smith had started using Ms Bohajczuk’s bank card and phone as his own.
By the time he was arrested there had been almost 40 transactions. The account had been emptied and overdrawn by £400.
Mr Storrie described the ‘grim scene’ faced by officers called out to the flat.
He told the court: ‘Imogen Bohajczuk had been lain on her bed. Her body had been arranged as though she were a spectacle.
‘Her arms were crossed, and she appeared to be clutching a bottle of perfume. A soft toy was by her neck. There had been rudimentary attempts to clean the scene.
‘Her legs were crossed at the ankle, and, on examination, the discovery was made that her body had been daubed, in nail varnish, with the words “it was me”.
‘Chillingly, an exhibition had been made of her body.’
During the post-mortem, a pathologist concluded she had been ‘dead for some time’ and noted that bruising to her face, jaw, scalp, and neck were compatible with an attempt at strangulation.
There were also a series of stab wounds, the most serious of which severed her carotid artery, separated a rib bone and punctured her lung.’
When interviewed, Smith said he accepted he was responsible for her death but he claimed it was ‘out of character’ and he drunkenly daubed on her leg merely to make it clear he had inflicted the injuries.
Benjamin Knight, defending, said Smith does not remember the stabbing itself but did recall placing her favourite perfume and soft toy on the bed.
He said: ‘That was not to create a spectacle but placing her in some form of peaceful position, in his mind. He does not really recall what he was thinking, only that it seemed to be the right thing to do – although he accepts, objectively, that does not make any sense.’
But Judge Patrick Field QC rubbished the suggestion.
He told Smith: ‘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.
‘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.
‘It is said that you laid Imogen out on her bed because that is what you thought was right. That is a grotesque irony. There was nothing that you did on that day that can be described as right.
‘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.’
In a victim personal statement, her mother, Kim Bohajczuk, said her daughter had told them about her plans to rebuild her life with her son and family, and of her ‘everlasting love’ for her child.
She said the family fully recognised descriptions of her in sympathy cards they had received – ‘intelligent, kind, caring, warm, beautiful and full of life’.