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UPDATE: Murder of Josh Hanson

News   •   Jun 18, 2018 06:00 BST

Detectives investigating the brutal murder of Josh Hanson are working through a number of potential new sightings since chief suspect Shane O'Brien was placed on a global Most Wanted list.

O'Brien also features on the Crimewatch Roadshow on BBC1 at 11:00hrs today, Monday, 18 June, on its Wanted section with members of the public urged to come forward with any information.

Josh, 21, from Kingsbury, died after an incident at the RE Bar in Field End Road, Eastcote in October 2015 with O'Brien fleeing the country via private plane immediately afterwards. A £50,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.

A month ago O'Brien was placed on Interpol's Most Wanted list which has world-wide coverage.

Since then there have been 15 potential sightings reported to police or the National Crime Agency, who are working abroad to track down O'Brien. Four of these have been investigated and eliminated from enquiries but work continues on the rest. In particular efforts are focused on Marbella in Spain, Bangkok in Thailand and Dubai.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "We are really pleased with the response to our appeals since O'Brien was placed on Interpol's list and would urge people to keep their eyes open wherever they are in the world. Please don't be discouraged by the fact some potential sightings have been investigated and discounted - we want to hear from anyone and everyone who thinks they see O'Brien or has any information no matter how small.

"We would encourage everyone to save the 'wanted' poster to their phones so they have all the information they need, and importantly if you are abroad and think you see O'Brien tell local police or call the National Crime Agency's public line on 0370 496 7622, which is staffed 24 hours a day, immediately - it is really important we are able to act quickly."

An appeal in October 2017, to mark two years since Josh's tragic death, also prompted a number of people to come forward with possible information about Shane O'Brien and detectives have been working hard since then to gather more information.

Three days after the appeal, information was received that a man matching O'Brien's description had been seen in central Prague on several occasions; the last time around mid-September 2017.

Detectives know O'Brien had been in Prague as he was arrested there in February last year for criminal damage and assault and now believe he was in the city for at least seven months. Extensive appeals have been carried out in Prague to try to build up a picture of his lifestyle.

Another person came forward to say O'Brien may have been in Gibraltar around the same time. Information was also received that O'Brien may have been in Nice in early November. Officers are also investigating reports of sightings in Bari, Italy.

A great deal of work has been carried out, with the help of the National Crime Agency, around all these sightings to gather further information.

DCI McHugh said: "Were these sightings of Shane O'Brien? We know he has been travelling extensively since Josh's murder and has the ability to move around without using his own identity with the help of others.

"Based on what we know about O'Brien's lifestyle and interests, we are looking to people in nightclubs and boxing gyms as well as ex-pats and any women he may have become involved with to come forward. Those who have been in close proximity to him may well have seen his distinctive and rather poor quality cover-up tattoo of a owl holding a skull. As always, any calls we receive with information will be dealt with in the upmost confidence.

"After more than two-and-a-half years, some may feel that will we never catch O'Brien. But with the work that has and continues to be done, I believe we are making it more and more difficult for those supporting and helping O'Brien to remain hidden and there will come a point where they will see him as a liability and they will make that anonymous call. It is hugely significant that he is now included on Interpol's world-wide Most Wanted list, we now have a global appeal, it is about reducing O'Brien's options."

Josh, 21, from Kingsbury, died on 11 October 2015 Police and the London Ambulance Service attended the RE bar at around 01:10hrs and Josh was found suffering a serious wound to the neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination gave cause of death as haemorrhage, inhalation of blood and an incised wound to the neck.

O'Brien was flown out of the UK in a privately chartered plane from Biggin Hill Airport. In March 2016 he was added to the Most Wanted list by the National Crime Agency and Crimestoppers and his image circulated worldwide. At that time it was believed he could be hiding in the Netherlands. Information later indicated he had travelled to Dubai. He was elevated to Europe's Most Wanted and placed on Europol's list and last month also added to Interpol's Most Wanted list

In February 2017, he was arrested in Prague. He used the Italian alias of Enzo Mellonceli, supported by false documentation, and was bailed pending further enquiries.

An image taken then shows he had changed his appearance – he had grown his hair and had a full beard and a distinctive new tattoo of an owl holding a skull, covering up his previous "Shannon 15-04-06" tattoo.

Tracey and Brooke Hanson, Josh's mum and sister, said: "Josh has not been a part of our lives now for two years and eight months and every day it is getting harder to cope without justice for him.

"Josh was just 21 years of age and at the prime of his life. We are asking the public to help us to get justice for Josh by sharing the wanted poster, so that we can grieve for him in peace."

O'Brien, originally from Ladbroke Grove, is described as white and 6ft with grey eyes and dark brown hair.

Two men have so far been arrested as part of the investigation into Josh's murder.

On 28 October 2015, detectives arrested a 24-year-old man [A] and a 29-year-old man [B] - who were on an inbound flight to the UK - on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. Both were later released with no further action.

Anyone with information about O'Brien or his whereabouts can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org, the police incident room on 020 8785 8099 or the National Crime Agency's public line on 0370 496 7622, which is staffed 24 hours a day.