An unemployed father of two from Peterborough has been told he will serve at least 34 years in prison for the murder of a rare books dealer in Oxford.
Michael Danaher, 50, attacked and killed Adrian Greenwood, 42, in the hallway of his victim’s home on 6 April, after hatching a plan to rob him of a rare first edition of The Wind in the Willows that Greenwood had listed on eBay for £50,000.
Greenwood suffered 33 stab wounds, including a 7.5cm (3in) deep puncture wound to his back, and multiple blunt force injuries. There were also numerous superficial puncture wounds, which a pathologist told a jury at Oxford crown court were consistent with him having been tortured for information.
Danaher admitted killing the antiques dealer, but claimed it was self-defence, telling the court that Greenwood had suddenly attacked him with a knife for no reason when he had visited the dealer to discuss buying other cheap books.
He was found guilty of murder after the jury had deliberated for less than three hours on Monday, and given a life sentence with a minimum of 34 years.
Danaher suffered only superficial scratches, pausing to take a selfie of a nick on his cheek as he left Greenwood dead or dying. The book dealer’s body was discovered by his cleaner the following day.
Over the course of a three-week trial, jurors heard that Danaher targeted the Oxford dealer after he listed the rare copy of the Kenneth Grahame children’s book – particularly valuable because it still had its original dust jacket – on eBay in August 2015.
Danaher was unemployed after falling out with his boss at an engines company in Peterborough, and scraped a living by buying and selling low-value items on the auction site.
After the killing, police found a “hitlist” on Danaher’s laptop that contained Greenwood’s name alongside those of a number of other wealthy individuals Danaher planned to rob or kidnap for ransom. Against Greenwood’s name, he had written: “Expected take: rare books”; “reason: tosser”. Under “modus”, Danaher had written: “Any!!”
Also included on the spreadsheet, which Danaher titled Enterprises, were the model Kate Moss and the Conservative peer Jeffrey Archer, along with a number of wealthy business figures, among them prominent Conservative party donors. Under “reason”, several were marked “Tory” or “scum Tory”.
Danaher also searched for the home addresses of wealthy figures including Eamonn Holmes, Simon Cowell, Gary Lineker and Louise Redknapp. A floorplan of the home of the TV presenter Anthea Turner was also found on his laptop.
Danaher’s internet history showed he had looked up how to buy samurai swords, regulations on owning rifles, “opening locks without keys” and “the technique of silent killing”.
In a bizarre defence, he attempted to claim it was not him but another man – who he would not name for fear of “consequences” – that had carried out the searches and drawn up the list. This man would come and go from his Peterborough flat at all hours of the day and night, Danaher claimed, and had full use of his mobile phone and laptop.
Occasionally, Danaher said, he would lend the man his phone and car, which he claimed explained why both had been traced to the home of the wealthy businessman Adrian Beecroft, when a man had tried to force his way in while disguised as a delivery driver. He fled when Beecroft’s wife screamed for help.