26-year minimum for ‘most wanted’ killer who slashed victim’s neck in bar

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives who evaded justice for three and a half years has been jailed for life for a "grotesque" and "totally unnecessary" attack.

Shane O'Brien, 31, slashed the neck of Josh Hanson, 21, in an act of "pitiless savagery" at a west London bar before fleeing the UK in a private plane.

The father-of-two used false travel documents to evade police until he was arrested in Romania and brought back to Britain in April.

He was found guilty of Mr Hanson's murder after an Old Bailey jury deliberated for 55 minutes.

Josh Hanson
Josh Hanson (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Mr Hanson's mother Tracey and sister Brooke read out emotional victim impact statements as he appeared to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Tracey Hanson tearfully described her son as a "considerate, kind and generous" man who was a "rising star" in his work

She told the court: "On the 11th October 2015 my life changed forever."

She received a call to say he had been stabbed in the early hours and was 10 minutes away when he died.

She told the court: "He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently."

Ms Hanson said she had been unable to grieve for him without justice.

Josh Hanson's mother Tracey and sister Brooke outside the Old Bailey
Josh Hanson's mother Tracey and sister Brooke outside the Old Bailey (Ryan Hooper/PA)

Brooke Hanson said: "Josh was not just my brother, he was my best friend."

She said his smile was "infectious" and his presence "magical".

She told the court she suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress, always wondering if she could have protected him from the "evil" that took him away.

Grandmother Mary Hanson said in a statement read on her behalf that at the age of 80, she did not want to carry on when her grandson died.

She wrote: "There is not a day when I don't think about my grandson. I cry for him every day, what he went through and how he suffered."

Judge Nigel Lickley QC jailed O'Brien for life with a minimum term of 26 years.

The judge said: "This was a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man.

"The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason."

CCTV of the incident
CCTV of the incident (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Having slashed the victim with a blade, O'Brien "calmly" walked away, leaving Mr Hanson to drown in his own blood in front of "shocked and traumatised" friends, the judge said.

There were angry shouts of "coward" from the public gallery as O'Brien was led from the dock.

During his Old Bailey trial, jurors were shown CCTV footage of the attack on roads planner Mr Hanson in the early hours of October 11 2005.

Mr Hanson could be seen clutching his throat and stumbling as his horrified girlfriend watched blood pour out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound from his left ear to right chest.

After calmly leaving the bar, O'Brien got a friend called "Vanessa" to secure a chartered four-seat plane to take him from Biggin Hill Airport to the Netherlands, the court heard.

O'Brien grew long hair and a beard and got a tattoo of his daughter's name covered over as he used false identity documents to travel to countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Shane O'Brien
Shane O'Brien (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Friends helped the boxing and martial arts fan lay low after he was added to Europol and Interpol's most wanted lists, his trial heard.

Despite being arrested in Prague in 2017 for assault, he slipped through the net after using the alias Enzo Melloncelli and fleeing when released on bail.

O'Brien denied murder, claiming he felt threatened by Mr Hanson's "very aggressive body language".

He told jurors he only wanted to scare Mr Hanson and did not mean the blade to make contact.

The court heard O'Brien had two previous convictions for having a blade and had shown no remorse.

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