Wanted fugitive found guilty after three-year international hunt

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been found guilty of murder following a three-and-a-half year international hunt

Shane O’Brien was convicted for slashing the throat of 21-year-old Josh Hanson in an act of “pitiless savagery” in a west London bar in 2015.

CCTV footage played in court showed the victim clutching his throat and stumbling as his horrified girlfriend watched blood pour out of a 37cm wound from his left ear to right chest.

After the attack, O’Brien, now 31, fled the UK in a private plane to the Netherlands and used false identity documents to travel around Europe.

The father-of-two, grew long hair and a beard and got the tattoo of his daughter’s name covered over to avoid detection while on the run.

Victim Josh Hanson was 21 when he was killed.

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

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

O'Brien was finally tracked down and arrested in Romania on March 23 this year.

The six foot tall defendant claimed he had only intended to “pretend to attack” his five foot six victim after he felt threatened by his “very aggressive body language”.

But DCI McHugh said O’Brien’s version of events was “very manipulative and controlling”.

“Josh never stood a chance that night,” he added.

The victim’s mother and sister hugged friends and wiped away tears after the verdict at the Old Bailey.

Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey said "We love you Josh, you know that though because you're always with us, especially today.

"For us, for nearly four years, every day has been a challenge. It's been a living nightmare.

"Today there are no more shadows cast upon my son, he is innocent, he was always innocent."

O’Brien showed no emotion as jurors convicted him for murder. He will be sentenced on October 17.

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