September 18, 2021

CCTV shows sickening knife attack by Britain’s most wanted man


Sickening CCTV footage shows the moment a killer who later became Britain’s most wanted man fatally stabbed a council worker in a neck in a petty squabble in a bar.

Shane O’Brien slashed Josh Hanson’s throat as he drank with a group including his girlfriend in Hillingdon, west London, in October 2015.

Mr Hanson, from Kingsbury, north-west London, died at the scene from his wounds while his killer fled to Romania on a private jet.  

CCTV – released by Mr Hanson’s family today to show the terrible reality of knife crime – shows O’Brien approach his victim in a venue called the RE bar and stab him in the throat before casually walking out.

The next day he bought some new designer clothes and a suitcase from Factory Store before flying to Romania on a privately-chartered plane from Biggin Hill Airport in Kent. 

O’Brien was finally arrested in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in March this year and extradited to the UK. 

Video released by the victim’s family today to show the terrible reality of knife crime. The victim, Mr Hanson, is indicated with a green arrow, the attacker, O’Brien, with a blue arrow. The footage also shows O’Brien shopping for clothes in the days after the attack 

Shane O’Brien (left) killed Josh Hanson (right) in an act of ‘pitiless savagery’ at a west London bar before fleeing the country in a private plane in 2015. He was finally convicted today

CCTV shows the moment O’Brien casually launched the fatal attack, slashing his victim’s neck

O’Brien became Britain’s most wanted man after he got a plane abroad and went on the run

The Met Police had put up a £50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest while Interpol circulated photos of the killer including a tattoo on his back of an owl spreading its wings over an Aztec skull. 

An Old Bailey jury took just 55 minutes to unanimously convict O’Brien of murdering Mr Hanson after a two-week trial.

Following O’Brien’s conviction, the victim’s mother, Tracey Hanson, told how she never got to opportunity to say goodbye to her beloved son.

She said: ‘I was denied my place as Josh’s mum as he lay on the cold floor alone, I could not hold him in my arms to comfort or reassure him, if only to give him hope that everything would be ok.

‘The aftermath of Josh’s murder has left us broken beyond repair as Josh was taken from us in the most horrific way possible, suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently, and nothing will ever erase the CCTV footage of Josh’s final moments from our minds as he was struck with a knife so horrifically and callously, along with his suffering as he tried to fight for his life.

Victim Josh Hanson’s mother says she never got a chance to say goodbye to her son

Mr Hanson’s mother, Tracey, standing with his sister Brooke said today that they will ‘continue to work hard to change the story about knife crime in Josh’s name’

The victim’s family today released photos of Josh in his youth and before his tragic death

The victim’s mother added: ‘Today after nearly four years and shy of two weeks before Josh’s fourth year anniversary justice was served. A jury of 12 members of the public delivered a guilty verdict based on the evidence provided to them. 

‘Josh was innocent and the attack on him was totally unprovoked and we hope that a whole life term will be handed down by the judge at sentencing.

‘While we continue to navigate through life without Josh we shall continue to work hard to change the story about knife crime in Josh’s name as we have done since his untimely and unnecessary death.  

‘The last time I spoke to my son was on the phone at 10.30pm that evening and at the end of the phone call we said “I love you” to one another the way we had always ended our conversations. Life for us will never be the same without Josh.’

O’Brien, a father-of-two, bit his lip as he heard the verdict and was remanded in custody ahead of sentence on 17 October.

O’Brien was finally tracked down in Romania and extradited back to Britain

Mr Hanson and his friends had been enjoying their evening until O’Brien dealt his catastrophic blow within 10 seconds of the confrontation starting.

O’Brien grabbed the knife from the right pocket of his designer Canada Goose jacket before slashing Mr Hanson’s throat, neck and chest in a single motion.

The fugitive then fled to Kent in a black VW Golf while arranging his flight out of the country.

He was spotted in The Camber Castle pub in Camber Sands, Rye, before flying to Romania on a private jet.

Police later found his blood-stained Canada Goose jacket in a caravan at the Camber Sands Holiday Park.

O’Brien triggered an international manhunt and was added to Interpol’s most-wanted list while he remained at large for four years.

He managed to avoid detection after being caught with fake Italian identity documents in Prague in February 2017.

O’Brien grabbed the knife from the right pocket of his designer Canada Goose jacket before slashing Mr Hanson’s throat, neck and chest in a single motion.

O’Brien was finally caught in Romania with a fake Danish passport in the name of Oliver Jakobsen, along with other false identity cards on 23 March.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: ‘The case is all about the events that happened at the end of a Saturday night out in a bar.

‘For most there that night, none of them could have predicted what would happen, so sudden and shocking was it.

‘They had gone out in the company of others for a good time. But by 2am one young man lay dead and another, slightly older man, was beginning a life on the run.

‘Those two men, the defendant and the man who died, did not know each other. They had gone to the bar separately, with other people, apparently unaware of the each other’s presence.

‘Their paths crossed only briefly and for a period of seconds or a few minutes at most.’

Crime scene: The RE bar in Hillingdon, north west London, is pictured in October 2015 after Mr Hanson’s death 

The prosecutor added: ‘Apart from their age there was another very obvious difference between them: one was armed with an extremely sharp blade and the other was wholly unarmed, and that was the deceased.

‘As they spoke briefly, with others around them, the defendant reached for his blade and with a single, slashing downward motion, he used it. He quite simply cut the throat of the man he was facing.

‘You will judge for yourselves when you have heard the evidence, but the prosecution will describe it as an act of pitiless savagery.’

O’Brien claimed Mr Hanson was aggressive towards him and he only raised the blade to scare him off.

O’Brien, of no fixed address, denied murder but was convicted. 

‘This felt different from other murders’: DCI Noel McHugh details the extraordinary globe-trotting three-year hunt to nail O’Brien 

The detective who helped capture Britain’s most wanted man, Shane O’Brien, today told the incredible inside story of how the Met tracked down the fugitive.

DCI Noel McHugh said the four-year investigation has been ‘heart-breaking, overwhelming and all-consuming’ for his team of officers.

He said: ‘The impact on Josh’s mum Tracey and sister Brooke has been incomprehensible. But I am incredibly proud of what my team have achieved, working alongside Josh’s family, and the extraordinary and outstanding work that has taken place to convict O’Brien.’

Writing of the start of the investigation, DCI McHugh said: ‘Seizing CCTV from the bar was so crucial to our investigation we raced our engineer across London on blues and twos – we know attempts were being made to destroy it.

‘This fast response meant we could quickly prove O’Brien’s identity as the man we sought via fingerprint work on the cups he drank from that night.

‘At that stage we didn’t know a great deal about him but, call it instinct if you like, somehow this felt different from other murders.’

DCI Noel McHugh, pictured at a separate murder scene, said his team were determined to track down O’Brien

O’Brien’s image was quickly publicised and detectives got the lead which took them to the Camber Sands caravan park where O’Brien had been hiding out.

He continued: ‘There followed painstaking and time-consuming work to examine CCTV in and around the caravan park and try to work out if he was there, what car he had travelled in. We found a black VW Golf that fitted.

‘That enabled us to track its movements and then what O’Brien did in the time following his attack on Josh.

‘What we saw was astounding; you would never know this man had just killed another in cold blood.

‘O’Brien was seen casually enjoying a curry with a friend, posing in front of a mirror, even getting the left-overs in a bag to go and then spending a couple of hours at Ashford Designer Outlet.

‘You’d think a man in his position might quickly grab the first thing on the shelf and make off, but no, as CCTV shows, he carefully selected and tried on trousers and shirts, even asking a shop assistant for help with collar sizing at one point. Always paying in cash – he was careful about that!’

He said police were just 12 hours behind him as he shopped at Ashford, but his ‘connections and criminal links’ allowed him to hire a plane to the continent.

DCI McHugh: ‘It was a theme throughout the investigation, O’Brien’s ability to travel on false documentation and undetected through countries, using private planes and highly encrypted phones costing £3,000 apiece.

‘He had no job in the UK, no bank account; he spent his summers in Ibiza and had returned home just a couple of weeks before Josh’s murder. Most of our manhunts last a few weeks or months, and the suspect might flee to another county in the UK, relying on family and limited funds – not O’Brien.

‘The hunt was on and we followed up every single potential sighting, you just never knew. Some were frustratingly intended to distract and mislead the investigation, by tying up our resources to follow a line of enquiry that came to nothing.

‘But they were far outweighed by the many many well-intentioned calls and lots were very credible – Xmas 2017 we had news he was at a tanning shop in west London. It sounded unbelievable he could be so close to home but CCTV showed a man who looked very similar to O’Brien. Extensive work would discount him.

‘As we know, in Prague his temper boiled up, leading to his arrest for a scuffle in a nightclub, a mistake on his part, or maybe not.

‘He was so confident and arrogant when arrested, it was clear this was no big deal for him. He was bailed – it was a low level offence – but fingerprints were taken and later proactive computer searches we requested revealed his true identity.

‘While frustrating we were so close, we had new images we could publicise and they showed a man who looked really fit and strong. He had boxing gloves on him when arrested and this gave us leads to follow up in local gyms plus we traced a barber who had cut O’Brien’s hair several times – O’Brien said he was Australian but didn’t have the accent to match.

‘We also found the tattooist he had visited to cover up his existing tattoos. We still hadn’t got our hands on O’Brien but it was progress and it was hope. Every little bit of information we obtained helped us build up a picture and was another piece of the puzzle towards finding him.

‘There were several arrests along the way. The man who chartered the plane and accompanied O’Brien out of the UK was later convicted of importing 100kg of heroin and cocaine, along with 30 of those encrypted phones.

‘The pilots were convicted in the Netherlands of importing more than 90kg of heroin. O’Brien had some interesting friends.’

DCI McHugh continued: ‘Late on Thursday 21 March this year I was called by O’Brien’s brief, based in the UK, saying O’Brien was considering handing himself in and wanted me to travel to Budapest to personally meet him.

‘My immediate thought was why? – really, he could have walked into any police station and handed himself in as one of the world’s most wanted men. Was this a trick to waste our time and resources getting out there only to find he was long gone somewhere else?

‘Then it changed and we were told the meet location was now Romania. We were then able to alert the Romanian authorities who did some brilliant work and they got him – detained with three mobile phones and counterfeit documentation.’

DCI McHugh was there in person to watch the plane land when O’Brien was flown back to Britain.

He added: ‘For me those three-and-a-half years until we got him were a lens into the pain a family without justice can suffer.

‘O’Brien was taken to Heathrow police station and I personally charged him, not something a DCI would normally do but I had to complete the story. He didn’t react, didn’t say anything.

‘It’s been a long and complex investigation and we feel it. During the last almost four years, officers have joined my team, been promoted, retired – and two DCs died suddenly of cancer within six weeks of each other, DC Vennart who had taken that initial break-through call, and DC Bernie Looney, another hugely valued colleague and friend. So during the trial I had a lump in my throat as I heard evidence gathered by amazing officers who are no longer with us.

‘The Met, you have all been amazing and this success is down to your brilliance. It was a tough period but we got through it because every officer and member of staff in the Met is committed to solving crime and getting justice for grieving families.’

Read More

Daily Mail

Filed Under: Essentials