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Murder accused ‘felt threatened’ before knife killing in bar, court told

Shane O’Brien says he is not criminally responsible for the death of Josh Hanson.

A general view of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey (Ian Nicholson/PA)
A general view of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey (Ian Nicholson/PA)

By Thomas Hornall, PA

An alleged murderer who slashed a man’s neck in a bar has told a court he believed his victim was “possibly” armed after seeing him “passed something shiny”.

Shane O’Brien stabbed 21-year-old Josh Hanson in an act of “pitiless savagery” at RE Bar in Hillingdon, west London, in October 2015, before going on the run for three years, the Old Bailey has heard.

O’Brien, 31, has told his murder trial he felt threatened by Mr Hanson who he felt was “ready to attack me” and “making very aggressive body language, staring straight into my eyes”.

In cross-examination, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC asked on Tuesday: “At the time did you see Mr Hanson with a weapon?”

O’Brien replied: “I didn’t see him obviously with a weapon.

“He possibly could have had a weapon and I had seen him passed something shiny.

“In my mind when I went up to approach him I felt under threat and possibly he could have had a weapon.”

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Josh Hanson (Metropolitan Police/PA)

CCTV images played in court showed the moment Mr Hanson arrived at the bar at around 12.45am on Sunday October 11, with footage also showing the pair first passing each other several minutes later.

O’Brien has said they were not aware of each other at that point, but said after he and his three friends sat down it became apparent “they wasn’t happy with us sitting at that table” and that “the situation seemed hostile”.

Jurors have seen video showing the moment O’Brien slashes the council worker in front of his girlfriend shortly after 1am after the bar lights came on for closing time, inflicting a 37cm wound from his left ear to right chest.

As footage around three minutes before the attack was played, Mr Heywood asks: “There is no hostility is there? Where was the hostility at this stage?”

O’Brien said: “That bar is very small. Just body language can create an atmosphere.”

Mr Heywood said: “It can if you’re looking for it, Mr O’Brien.”

O’Brien has told the court he wanted to “pretend to attack” Mr Hanson with a knife bought from B&Q earlier that day to “scare him”, adding: “From the bottom of my heart I did not mean to touch him with that blade.”

Jurors have heard O’Brien accepts he used the blade to cause Mr Hanson’s death but says he is not “criminally responsible” because he did not mean to kill him.

PA

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