Art dealer killed ‘over rare Wind in the Willows book’ – BBC News

Image caption Art dealer Adrian Greenwood was found dead in his home by a cleaner on 7 April

The “savage” murder of a book dealer was part of an attempt to steal a 50,000 first edition of the Wind in the Willows, a court has heard.

Adrian Greenwood, 42, was found at his four-storey Oxford house in April, fatally stabbed in the chest and neck.

Michael Danaher, 50, of Hadrians Court, Peterborough, is on trial at Oxford Crown Court and denies murder.

Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said Mr Danaher had also targeted Jeffrey Archer and Kate Moss.

Live updates from the trial

His intention was “to get money” by going to the houses of wealthy people and robbing them, Mr Saxby said.

‘Resentment and anger’

A spreadsheet was found on the defendant’s computer with the names of 14 “people of means” who he intended to steal from or kidnap, the court was told.

Other people on the list included venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, TV pawnbroker Adam Hatfield, property developer Howard Grossman, and financial investor Guy Hands.

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Image caption Kate Moss was on a list of wealthy people made by the defendant, the prosecution said

Mr Saxby said the list was “considered in its own way, and efficient, and really quite brutal” and also had details of valuables, weapons and family members of his planned victims.

The weapon listed in many cases was “stun gun”, and one was found in Mr Danaher’s flat by police.

He told the jury: “Note its tone. It exudes a certain sense of resentment, even anger.

“It is almost as if these are people who, because of their wealth, and his lack of it, deserve to be subjected to what he has planned.”

Mr Saxby said Mr Greenwood’s name was on the list next to a note that read: “Modus: Any!! Expected take: Rare books.”

He added that Mr Greenwood had been beaten, repeatedly stabbed and stamped on.

Image caption Mr Greenwood was found fatally stabbed at his four-storey Oxford house in April

Mr Saxby said: “It takes a certain sort of person to have done what the defendant did to Adrian Greenwood.

“Cool, calculated, controlled, before, during and after. And underpinning it all? Greed. It was money he was after.”

Mr Danaher admits killing Mr Greenwood but says it was in self-defence.

The prosecutor listed three criminal convictions the victim had for assault and battery and acknowledged that he “had a temper, which from time to time he lost”.

But he added that he had “no track record of using or threatening serious violence”.

Other items Mr Greenwood had for sale included signed wartime photographs of Winston Churchill, a first illustrated edition of Frankenstein, an oil painting by George Bernard Shaw, and a 16th Century Bible.

‘Perfect target’

Mr Saxby said the defendant, who was out of work and experiencing money problems, had no previous criminal convictions.

But he said: “As of late 2015, alone in his flat, on the internet, often late at night, he was plotting.

“Plotting to get money by committing crimes, really serious crimes with victims.”

He said Mr Danaher repeatedly searched the internet for “Adrian Greenwood”, “rare books Oxford” and “Wind in the Willows” towards the end of last year.

According to bank records, in the early hours of 16 December he also bought a stun gun disguised as a mobile phone, the barrister added.

Mr Saxby said: “The more he looked into Adrian Greenwood, the more of a perfect target he must have seemed.

“Here was an immensely valuable book in a house that wasn’t quite so fortified as those around it, and a man living alone.”

When police examined Mr Danaher’s phone and laptop they found e-books with titles such as Hacking for Profit, Opening Locks Without Keys, and The Technique of Silent Killing, Mr Saxby said.

The prosecutor said Mr Danaher tried to enter Adrian Beecroft’s house on 22 March, arriving with a parcel he said was for the venture capitalist’s daughter.

The jury was told Mr Beecroft’s wife realised something was wrong and screamed for help.

On that occasion Mr Danaher fled the scene, Mr Saxby added.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-37546448