A “malignant twist of fate” led a sexual deviant to cross paths with vulnerable 21-year-old Libby Squire on the night he raped and murdered her, a judge said.
Jailing Pawel Relowicz for life with a minimum term of 27 years, Mrs Justice Lambert said he was “very dangerous” and he had dumped the philosophy student’s dead or dying body in the River Hull, hoping it would never be found.
Her mother Lisa Squire read a powerful victim’s statement before sentencing, in which she said she was haunted by the thought of not being there for her daughter on the night of January 31 2019.
Relowicz, a married father-of-two, was found guilty of rape and murder following a four-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
The jury dismissed his claim he had consensual sex, and accepted that he cajoled or forced her into his car, drove to isolated playing fields at Oak Road, Hull, then disposed of her dead or dying body in the river.
The judge said that from the moment the Polish-born meat factory worker spotted Ms Squire, who was drunk, confused and upset in the street, she “did not have a chance”.
She said jurors who watched CCTV of both their movements that night would be “only too conscious of that malignant twist of fate which would lead your paths to cross”.
Relowicz had been carrying out a campaign of chilling, sexually-motivated crimes in the student area of Hull, peering through windows to watch young women, breaking in to their homes to steal intimate items, and masturbating in the street.
“Emboldened” by the fact he had not been stopped, his offending escalated, the judge said.
Ms Squire had gone out with friends and had been refused entry to a nightclub when Relowicz saw her in the street.
Mrs Justice Lambert said “from the moment you intercepted her… Liberty Squire did not stand a chance”.
She said: “There was a significant degree of planning that night as you patrolled the student area looking for a suitable victim.”
One of the aggravating factors in the rape offence was its location – “a desolate playing field in the perishing cold”, the judge said.
The killer tried to evade justice by dumping her in the tidal river, the judge said, and it was was only by chance that a fisherman found her body weeks later in the Humber Estuary.
Mrs Justice Lambert said he was correctly described as having conducted a “perverted campaign of sexually deviant behaviour” by the judge who dealt with his previous offending of voyeurism, outraging public decency and burglary, which happened over 18 months.
She said: “He also considered you to be potentially a very dangerous individual, again he was correct to do so.”
The judge paid tribute to the dignity shown by Ms Squire’s parents, Lisa and Russell Squire, who followed the trial throughout and were in court for the sentencing.
Mrs Squire told the court: “There are no adequate words that can explain the torture of living without my Libby.
“In any times of trouble she wanted me, her mum. She knew I would do anything in my power to help her.
“Knowing I was not there when she needed me will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Mr Squire said: “I’ve lost my little girl and I’m heartbroken.
“I struggle to look at her pictures and can no longer watch her video clips, I am afraid to recall her memories because of the pain they bring. How cruel is that?”
Oliver Saxby QC, defending, commenting on the degree of planning, said: “There was no doubt he was on the look out to commit sexual offences, but he was not cruising around to commit rape or a murder.”