Victim was ready to attack me, murder accused tells court

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 in London has heard.

Victim was ready to attack me, murder accused tells court

A pub-goer who killed a man by slashing his neck has told a court he felt threatened by his "smirking" victim who was "raring to go" and "ready to attack me".

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 in London has heard.

O'Brien, 31, said in evidence that 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."

Asked by defence counsel Graham Trembath QC to explain what happened, O'Brien said he had sat down with three friends near council worker Mr Hanson and his group before it became apparent "they wasn't happy with us sitting at that table".

Giving evidence to his murder trial today, O'Brien said: "Amongst our little crowd everybody agreed the situation seemed hostile. It felt like they judged us as soon as we sat down."

O'Brien, who had been in London for eight days after spending five months in Ibiza, went on: "After, it became obvious the problem was with me in particular.

"Josh in particular started being very aggressive, by his facial expressions. He was making very aggressive body language, staring straight into my eyes. He was the instigator of the whole thing. He was raring to go. Personally I felt like he was ready to attack me."

'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.

CCTV images played in court showed the moment Mr Hanson was attacked in the early hours of October 11 in front of his girlfriend, with blood flowing from a 37cm wound from his left ear to right chest.

O'Brien told the court that after standing to leave the bar at closing time he approached Mr Hanson: "I said something along the lines of 'what's your problem? Leave me alone'.

"He was smirking, in a sarcastic action. Still keeping up the persona.

"When I stood up I didn't have a plan to do anything. When I approached him in that split second, that moment froze. When I made that action I didn't mean it to connect with him in any way.

"I wanted to scare him off. To pretend to attack him to scare him. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart I did not mean to touch him with that blade.

"I did what I did because I felt like I was about to be attacked. I genuinely felt threatened."

Facebook appeal

O'Brien said he left the bar without realising he had even wounded Mr Hanson, telling jurors he did not find out until around an hour and a half later.

Asked about the blade he had produced from a pocket of his jacket, O'Brien said he had bought it several hours before to open boxes he had left with friends before moving to Ibiza for the party season.

O'Brien fled to a caravan park in Camber Sands, East Sussex in England, but was recognised by staff at the nearby Camber Castle pub following a Facebook police appeal, jurors were told. Before he could be apprehended, he was flown in a private plane from Biggin Hill airport to the Netherlands.

Despite an international manhunt, O'Brien evaded authorities for years, using fake identity documents, including a Danish passport, and got a new tattoo covering up an existing one on his back, jurors were told.

O'Brien was finally arrested in Romania on March 23 and brought back to Britain on April 5.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox