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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 17:18 GMT
Murderer made serial killer boast
Mark Martin, John Ashley and Dean Carr
The three men were all convicted of murder
Three men have been found guilty of murdering homeless women in Nottingham between December 2004 and January 2005.

Mark Martin, 26, was jailed for life at Nottingham Crown Court for strangling Zoe Pennick, 26, Ellen Frith, 25 and Katie Baxter, 18.

Martin, who took the lead in the killings, said he had wanted to become the city's first serial killer.

Dean Carr was found guilty of murdering Ms Frith, as was John Ashley who was also convicted of killing Ms Baxter.

Ashley, 34, who was known as "Cockney John", was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison for his role in the murders.

Martin was relishing in being known as Nottingham's first serial killer
Prosecutor Peter Kelson

He was cleared of murdering Zoe Pennick.

Carr, 30, will serve at least 14 years in prison, while a fourth man, Paul Ellis, 31, was cleared of moving Katie Baxter's body.

The court heard during the five-week trial that Martin had bragged about the killings.

Prosecutor Peter Kelson QC told the jury: "Martin was relishing in being known as Nottingham's first serial killer.

"He seems to have had a fascination with violence against women and the crimes he committed and the suffering his victims endured."

Martin boasted to a prison inmate: "If you kill one you might as well kill 21."

Ellen Frith, Katie Baxter and Zoe Pennick
The three women were all strangled
The prisoner, Scott Sinclair, who was on remand with Martin at Nottingham Prison, said Martin seemed proud of what he had done and the fear it generated within the jail.

Martin did not give evidence in court and made no reaction as the jury returned guilty verdicts.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Butterfield told the 26-year-old: "The facts of these crimes are so horrific and the level of offending is so serious, you must be kept in prison for the rest of your life.

"These matters were committed by you because you positively enjoyed killing, taking the wholly innocent lives of these three young women for your own perverted gratification.

"You have not shown a moment of remorse. You have revelled in what you did, glorifying the macabre details of these senseless, brutal and callous killings."

Buried under rubble

The bodies of Miss Pennick and Miss Baxter, who went missing within days of each other between Christmas and New Year 2004, were found six days apart in the same Nottingham warehouse.

Martin had partially buried them under rubble.

Miss Frith's badly-burned body was discovered by fire crews in a flat in Marple Square, in the St Ann's area of Nottingham, on 24 January, 2005.

Martin had strangled her following an argument about drug money. He then set fire to the building.

Speaking after the verdict Miss Baxter's father Stephen said: "Katie was a lovely, happy girl with her whole life ahead of her.

"Katie was never homeless. She associated with people from the homeless community and although she often stayed in these circles, it was no reason for her to be murdered. She did not deserve to die."

Miss Pennick's father Kevin, who is from Derby, added: "The pain of losing my little girl in such a brutal way will always remain with me.

"Zoe was not homeless. She had a home to go to but chose to associate with other people who led the homeless lifestyle."

See the story of the killings

Men deny homeless murder charges
16 Jan 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Parents 'cannot forgive killers'
24 Feb 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Murders show homeless underworld
24 Feb 06 |  Nottinghamshire

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