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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
'Blue-eyed man' hard to forget
Jan Charlton
Charlton insisted Danny O' Brien was her soulmate
Former escort girl Jan Charlton thought she would spend the rest of her life with Danny O'Brien, the man she hacked to death with an axe.

When they met in the escort club where she worked, his "beautiful blue, twinkly eyes" were said to have "instantly captivated her".

Within the space of just a few months, however, the jury at Leeds Crown Court was told a cycle of violence against her and threats of death to her daughter, had shattered any illusions Charlton might have had.

The jury at Leeds Crown Court was told that almost as soon as they got together Mr O'Brien told her to sever all ties with her past life.


[Danny O'Brien] did not have many reservations...nothing seemed to scare him

Defence witness
While it seemed it was only because he wanted them to start a new life together, a determination by Mr O'Brien to completely control 36-year-old Charlton lay behind it.

Between September 2000 and May 2001, when Mr O'Brien was killed with an axe embedded in his head, the couple's "bizarre" sex life was a major part of an ultimately destructive relationship.

A defence witness told the jury Charlton suffered a catalogue of abuse by Mr O'Brien and threats against her four-year-old daughter Amy.

She said: "He threatened he would find her and Amy wherever they were and he was going to bring them back.

Danny O'Brien
Danny O'Brien was described as "dangerous man"
"And if they tried to get away again, he'd kill them. It was always her and Amy."

The nature of their relationship was put on public display, when Mr O'Brien took Charlton to a sex club in Manchester and carried out a sexual act with her while other people watched.

Despite that, Charlton insisted the two of them were "soulmates".

One of her other escort clients told the court: "She explained how he did not have many reservations about things he would or wouldn't do. Nothing seemed to scare him.

"Every time I spoke to her she was falling more and more in love with him."

Finally on 23 May 2001, as Mr O'Brien was blindfolded, naked and handcuffed, Charlton hit her lover 20 times over the head.

She claimed it was in self-defence after months of abuse and threats to her daughter.


I didn't know I'd killed him. I was just in a daze, a total and utter daze

Janet Charlton
Behind closed doors in their luxury home at The Old Woodyard, Midgeley, near Wakefield, it was the final act in an intense and violent relationship.

For five weeks however, the court was told that Charlton convinced detectives she had found Mr O'Brien's body when she returned home to meet her ex-husband, and father of Amy.

The prosecution used this evidence of deception to show the court that Charlton was "a callous killer and consummate actress", who killed Mr O'Brien as an act of revenge.

When she finally admitted to detectives she had killed Mr O'Brien she said: "He's a dangerous, dangerous man and he has killed kids before.

Amnesia 'plausible'

"I didn't know I'd killed him. I was just in a daze, a total and utter daze."

One of her defence witnesses appeared to back her claims, telling the court it was "plausible" Charlton simply forgot she had carried out the killing.

Professor Michael Kopelman said amnesia in homicides was most common in so-called "crimes of passion".

Now she has been cleared of murder but jailed for manslaughter.


Click here to go to Leeds
See also:

27 May 02 | England
08 May 02 | England
01 May 02 | England
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