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Historian's killer 'drew up list of extortion targets including Kate Moss'

Published 04/10/2016

Book dealer Adrian Greenwood was said to have been targeted because he owned a Wind In The Willows first edition
Book dealer Adrian Greenwood was said to have been targeted because he owned a Wind In The Willows first edition

A host of high-profile figures including Jeffrey Archer and Kate Moss were listed as potential targets for extortion, and researched online by a man accused of murdering a respected Oxford historian, a court has heard.

Michael Danaher, 50, compiled a "clinical" spreadsheet list containing high-profile targets for theft, robbery and ransom demands, Oxford Crown Court heard.

He also searched online for the homes of TV presenters Eamonn Holmes and Michael Parkinson, footballer Rio Ferdinand and music mogul Simon Cowell, saving these under a folder with the same name, the court was told.

Danaher, of Hadrians Court, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, is on trial for the murder of Adrian Greenwood on April 6.

The body of the Oxford University-educated academic, 42, was discovered with stab wounds by his cleaner in the hall of his four-storey home in Iffley Road, Oxford, the following day.

His name was found on a list on the defendant's laptop and mobile phone.

Also on the spreadsheet list, under the heading Enterprises, were high-profile "people with means" from whom he was planning to get money, including novelist Lord Archer and supermodel Kate Moss, prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said.

He described the list as "efficient, and considered and really quite brutal", and said it read like "an everyday list of people to see, things to do".

Danaher planned to get this money by either stealing, robbing the targets' homes or by demanding a ransom by kidnapping an occupant, Mr Saxby said.

Mr Greenwood, a buyer and seller of rare and valuable books, is believed to have been targeted because he owned a £50,000 first edition of The Wind In The Willows, published in 1908, the court heard.

The classic by Kenneth Grahame was worth a "mouth-watering sum" because it came with an original dust cover.

At the time of his death, Mr Greenwood had more than 200 items for sale, 17 of which were worth more than £2,000.

These included signed wartime photographs of Sir Winston Churchill and an illustrated first edition of Mary Shelley's horror novel Frankenstein, and Beatrix Potter's The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, which was put on Ebay.

Wearing a grey sweatshirt, Danaher, who denies murder, sat in the dock as Mr Saxby opened the case against him.

Showing jurors the list, the prosecutor said: "It exudes, we are going to suggest, a sense of resentment - even anger.

"It is almost as if these are people who, because of their wealth, and his lack of it, deserved to be subjected to what he has planned."

There was a "callousness" about the list, Mr Saxby continued, adding that a stun gun was found at Danaher's flat when he was arrested on April 10, after police tracked Mr Greenwood's phone to the location.

Danaher, who was unemployed and separated from a wife with whom he has two sons, had been experiencing money problems for "a while", the court was told.

He had been considering unlawful means of solving these problems, with his internet history showing he was researching rich people since July 2015, Mr Saxby said.

Former FA chairman Greg Dyke and commentator Katie Hopkins were also included in his online searches, the court heard, as was "Louise Redknapp house" and "Lineker house".

Next to the spreadsheet entry for private equity boss Guy Hands the phrase "Why scum Tory" was allegedly written.

Mr Saxby said: "It wasn't simply the rich and the famous, the common theme was people with money, some of whom were rich and celebrities."

The court heard that Mr Greenwood could be a "difficult" person, who had several previous altercations, including one where he drove his car slowly at two council workers in a dispute over parking, causing them to fall over.

But he was also described by friends as "very kind" and "sensitive", someone who "felt strongly about what was right and what was wrong", Mr Saxby said.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Greenwood died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck and had defensive wounds to the hands.

He was stabbed in the back, stamped on over his right upper arm and left for dead, the jury was told.

One of the stab wounds penetrated 10cm, while 30 puncture injuries caused by the knife tip might have been "attempts to extract information from the victim", according to a pathologist, Mr Saxby said.

How else, he told the jury they might want to consider, would Danaher have known where to find the rare Wind In The Willows edition, when the collector had no obvious logic for ordering his books?

Not far from Mr Greenwood's body the handle of a kitchen knife was found. The blade, which Mr Saxby said presumably broke off during the attack, was allegedly taken from the scene by Danaher and later found in his flat.

Moments after, he took a selfie which showed blood on his beard, and within hours had accessed his Enterprises list, presumably to remove Mr Greenwood's name, jurors were told.

Danaher is claiming self-defence, Mr Saxby said.

He said the evidence that the defendant knew Adrian Greenwood, and attended his address on April 6 was "utterly overwhelming".

The court heard that just two weeks before the murder of Mr Greenwood, Danaher had visited the home of the Beecroft family in Hampstead, north London, pretending to deliver a parcel.

Adrian Beecroft, of Wonga, had been on his list of targets for money, the court heard.

The attempt to enter the house failed when an occupant called the police, and Danaher, realising he had been "rumbled", fled, Mr Saxby said.

Following Mr Greenwood's death, he then allegedly drafted a threatening letter urging an occupant to look up what had happened to the collector and demanding 200 bitcoins, a form of virtual currency.

Part of the letter, which was never sent, said if the money was not received, "We will bide our time until your guard is down. You have been warned".

Another part boasted of connections within Thames Valley Police, and that they would know if anyone reported the letter to the force.

Danaher was said to have repeatedly searched for Wind In The Willows and Adrian Greenwood online and visited Oxford five times in the run-up to Mr Greenwood's death.

As a sign of his financial difficulties, the numerous searches relating to Mr Greenwood and others were punctuated by "debt texts" from loan companies referring to previous applications Danaher had allegedly made, including one for £5,000.

Discovered on his phone and laptop were several publications including Opening Locks Without Keys and another called The Technique of Silent Killing, Mr Saxby said.

The day before Mr Greenwood's death Danaher researched Getting Away With Murder - Britain's Most Notorious Unsolved Crimes, the court heard.

He also previously purchased a stun gun disguised as an iPhone for £33, the court heard.

The jury will visit the murder scene on Wednesday, Judge Ian Pringle QC, Honorary Recorder of Oxford said.

The trial continues.

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