Memorial service in south Leeds street after death of woman, 21

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THEY gathered in pouring rain for a memorial service on the south Leeds street where a fatally injured 21-year-old woman was found two days before Christmas.

More than 40 people lit candles and left floral tributes yesterday afternoon in memory of Daria Pionko, who was found on Springwell Road at Holbeck just before 1.30am on December 23.

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She was taken to hospital but died a short time later.

The Polish woman, who police say was a sex worker living in Leeds, was found in a “managed” red light zone created for prostitutes to work without fear of police action.

Rev Kathryn Fitzsimons, Vicar of Gipton, led a short service on Springwell Road after dozens of people braved heavy downpours to pay their respects.

Rev Fitzsimons said: “We are here simply to remember Daria. We are here to mark the end of her life with symbols of concern, compassion and some prayer.”

Daria Pionko

Daria Pionko

Joy Pocock, 43, of Belle Isle, who has volunteered for the Leeds-based Joanna Project which works with vulnerable women, organised today’s memorial service.

She said: “There are a lot of people in the community that want to support the women and tell them they are loved.

“I would like to think if this was my child somebody would have stood for her and lit a candle on her behalf. I didn’t want her life to go un-noticed. This is just about people in the community who care for these women.”

Louise McGrechaen, of Headingley, co-ordinator of Leeds Poverty Truth Commission, said: “It really struck a chord that what Joy was trying to do here today just felt absolutely right.”

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We have come to pay our respects. Whilst we are investigating her death it’s important to remember her life, which has been tragically cut short.”

– Police have charged Lewis Pierre, 24, of Leeds, with Daria Pionko’s murder. He has also been charged with robbery and rape and is due to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court this morning.

The car which caught fire. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

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