Josh Hanson murder: Bereaved mother vows to keep her innocent son’s memory alive as fugitive killer found guilty

PUBLISHED: 16:19 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 01 October 2019

Josh Hanson. Picture: Met Police

Josh Hanson. Picture: Met Police


A grieving mother has said her son’s murder has left the family “broken beyond repair” as his fugitive killer is found guilty.

Tracey and Josh Hanson (Picture: Met Police)Tracey and Josh Hanson (Picture: Met Police)

Shane O'Brien was found guilty at the Old Bailey today of murdering Josh Hanson on October 11 2015.

Josh, 21, died after his throat was slashed during a night out with friends at the RE Bar in Hillingdon.

O'Brien then chartered a private plane to leave the country and was subject to a world-wide manhunt involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), Europol and Interpol before finally being extradited from Romania in March.

At the forefront of the manhunt was Josh's mother Tracey and sister Brooke who drove a huge appeal for help and information, distributing more than 70,000 wanted posters to keep the fugitive in the public eye.

Tracey Hanson, mother of murdered Josh (Picture credit: Jonathan Goldberg)Tracey Hanson, mother of murdered Josh (Picture credit: Jonathan Goldberg)

Tracey said: "The aftermath of Josh's murder has left us broken beyond repair as Josh was taken from us in the most horrific way possible, suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently, and nothing will ever erase the CCTV footage of Josh's final moments from our minds as he was struck with a knife so horrifically and callously, along with his suffering as he tried to fight for his life."

She said she and her daughter were 10 minutes away from Josh on the night he died. "I was denied my place as Josh's mum as he lay on the cold floor alone, I could not hold him in my arms to comfort or reassure him, if only to give him hope that everything would be ok."

"Josh was innocent and the attack on him was totally unprovoked and we hope that a whole life term will be handed down by the judge at sentencing."

She added:"Life for us will never be the same without Josh, it is very different from the one that was once familiar to us, and if you see a smile on my face know that there will always be sadness behind it."

Tracey Hanson has been travelling round mainline stations wearing a sandwich board bearing the man's face wanted for her son's murder. Picture: Tracey HansonTracey Hanson has been travelling round mainline stations wearing a sandwich board bearing the man's face wanted for her son's murder. Picture: Tracey Hanson

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Tracey set up the Josh Hanson Charitable Trust in honour of her son.

"While we continue to navigate through life without Josh we shall continue to work hard to change the story about knife crime in Josh's name as we have done since his untimely and unnecessary death."

Det Chf Insp Noel McHugh, who led the murder squad, said: "This is the day I, and certainly Josh's family, almost feared would never come - O'Brien finally convicted of that unprovoked and vicious attack in a bar in Eastcote close to four years ago. And we still do not have a clear answer - why?

Shane O'Brien's name is on a list of 'most wanted' crime suspects thought to be in the Netherlands (Photo@ Metropolitan Police)Shane O'Brien's name is on a list of 'most wanted' crime suspects thought to be in the Netherlands (Photo@ Metropolitan Police)

"Regardless, the evidence against O'Brien was strong from the start. However, he still denied his guilt and forced Josh's family to undergo the trauma of a trial.

"O'Brien is an extremely dangerous individual who murdered a young man in the prime of his life in a packed bar for no reason whatsoever."

He commended Tracey and Brooke. "It is a miracle they can get up each day and we can only imagine what they have endured, losing their beacon Josh, followed by years of uncertainty, fearing O'Brien may never be caught.

"I know their grieving for Josh can only truly begin now O'Brien is behind bars but that won't help with the lifetime of birthdays, Christmases and family celebrations they must endure with an empty seat at the table thanks to one man's devastating and callous actions."

Tom Dowdall, deputy director international for the NCA, said: "We're delighted to have played a role in helping secure justice for Josh's family.

"O'Brien went on the run and spent several years desperately playing cat and mouse with international law enforcement.

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