Shane O'Brien jailed: Britain’s 'most wanted' fugitive given life for ‘cold-blooded’ murder

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives who went on the run for three-and-a-half years after murdering a man in an act of “pitiless savagery” was jailed for life today.

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

The father-of-two became one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives when he used false travel documents to evade police until he was arrested in Romania and brought back to Britain in April.

O’Brien was jailed for life with a minimum of 26 years at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for the ‘grotesque’ killing.

During his trial, jurors were shown CCTV footage of the attack on roads planner Mr Hanson in the early hours of October 11 2015.

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

Shane O'Brien has been jailed for murder following a three-and-a-half-year manhunt (PA)
O'Brien (back to camera) during the attack on 21-year-old Josh Hanson (facing camera) who puts his hand up seconds after being slashed in the neck (PA)

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.

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

The RE bar in west London where Shane O'Brien attacked Mr Hanson in 2005. (PA)
Caught on camera; O'Brien spotted in a shop buying new clothes after attacking 21-year-old Hanson. (PA)

Despite being arrested in Prague in 2017 for assault, he managed to slip 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 scare Mr Hanson and did not mean the blade to touch him.

Mr Hanson could be seen clutching his throat and stumbling following the attack (PA)
DCI Noel McHugh, Josh Hanson's mother Tracey Hanson and his sister Brooke Hanson outside the Old Bailey following the conviction of Shane O'Brien.

O'Brien was found guilty of murder after a jury deliberated for 55 minutes.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, from Scotland Yard, described the hunt for O'Brien as "hugely challenging”.

He said: "He was funded, provided with false documents, encrypted mobile phones, well beyond the capability of the ordinary criminal.”

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