Tyne & Wear

Janet Brown murder case: Donald Graham 'appropriated assets'

Janet Brown Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Janet Brown's body has never been found

A man murdered his wealthy lover then planned to get his wife or another girlfriend help him claim her inheritance, a court has been told.

Janet Brown, of Hexham, Northumberland, vanished aged 45 in 2005.

Donald Graham is accused of murdering her, concealing her body and then stripping her and her parents' estates. He admits fraud but denies murder.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he must have been confident she was dead when he tried to access her parents' farm.

Mr Graham, 59 and of Elsdon Avenue in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, is also accused of perverting the course of justice, along with his girlfriend, Elizabeth Todd, which they both deny.

Ms Todd, 51, also denies forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud.

'Proof of motive'

The jury was told that Mr Graham used Ms Brown's money to buy expensive cars and a house for Ms Todd.

He also befriended her parents, and when they both died, the prosecution alleges that he drained their assets until only their farm was left.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said: "Donald Graham was planning to use the service of either Elizabeth Todd or his own wife to enter the offices and pretend to be Janet Brown, in the role of executor of Eric Brown's will, in order to authorise the transfer of Plane Trees Farm."

He added that Mr Graham must have been confident Ms Brown was dead when he set about taking her assets.

'Act with impunity'

"This is the clearest proof of a motive for the murder of Janet Brown," he said.

"Donald Graham has appropriated Janet Brown's assets, sold her motor cars, falsified her name and signature on various documents.

"This course of conduct has followed her disappearance and demonstrates he was aware he could act in such a manner with impunity, because there was no risk she would reappear."

Mr Graham's wife is not charged with any offence.

The trial continues.

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