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Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Northumberland Murder
60 year old Donald Graham's been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a wealthy heiress from Northumberland.
The judge at Newcastle Crown Court told Graham he must serve a minimum of 32 years behind bars.
He was convicted by a jury of murdering Janet Brown, who hasn't been seen since she went missing in 2005.
Her body has never been found.
Speaking outside Newcastle Crown Court following the jury's verdict, Janet's family said:
"We would like to say that we are pleased with the verdict. The last four years have been very difficult for us, dealing with the aftermath of these events.
We are very grateful for the professionalism of Northumbria Police and for their extraordinarily thorough and detailed investigation of events over this period.
Our sincere thanks go to the investigation team, and in particular, we would like to thank our police liaison officers for all their help and support that they have given us during the investigation.
We are also very grateful to the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing the evidence in this case before a jury.''
Northumbria Police Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Musgrove said:
"I'm pleased with today's verdict and that justice has finally been done for Janet and her family.
Her family have shown great dignity throughout the inquiry and I hope they can find some solace that the man responsible for her murder has been found culpable.
Graham is a controlling and manipulative man, particularly towards women; a bully who deliberately instils fear into people and uses intimidating behaviour to get his own way.
He is a callous man who made it look like Janet was alive when in fact he had, motivated by financial greed, murdered her.''
UPDATED Thursday 19th June 2014
A man has convicted of murdering and hiding the body of a wealthy heiress from Northumberland.
60 year old Donald Graham (pictured below), killed his former lover Janet Brown, and went on to strip her parents of their wealth, in order to fund his love of fast cars.
Ms Brown, who had worked as an extra on television and as a mystery shopper, has not been seen since 2005 when she "disappeared from the face of the earth'', just before she was due to go on holiday with Graham.
Having disposed of her body he took advantage of the fact that Ms Brown had planned to go abroad by sending fake postcards from France saying she had found a job.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Graham then set about ingratiating himself with her parents who were elderly and in poor health and after her mother Olive died he began visiting her father Eric at their house.
He began to do Mr Brown's shopping and slowly gained his trust and confidence, making regular visits to their home at Plane Trees Farm, Lowgate, Hexham.
This meant he was able to gain access to all Janet Brown's bank documents and personal affairs and Eric Brown's cheque book and details of his pension.
Even after both parents died Mr Graham went on to arrange their funerals without telling any relative but did obtain a death certificate which with all the other information he had gained meant he went on to strip their estate of all their assets through false telephone calls and false withdrawal slips.
Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, told the jury that just before she went missing Ms Brown had transferred Graham £300,000 after he convinced her to do it through some deceit, only now known to him.
He then told Ms Brown he was no longer able to go on holiday with her because his wife was suffering from cancer, which was a lie.
She decided to go anyway but since that day she has not been in contact with any of her friends, her family, her bank and or any service such as a doctor or the police.
Graham's downfall eventually came in 2009 when one of the banks that Eric Brown held an account with suspected fraudulent activity and informed police about their suspicions.
Mr Justice Openshaw said he would pass sentence on Graham tomorrow, who was also convicted of perverting the course of justice and a number of fraud charges he had already admitted.
The jury were unable to reach a verdict on 51 year old Elizabeth Todd, who was accused of fraud, forgery and jointly accused of perverting the course of justice.
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