Peterborough man was “having a bad day” when he killed and allegedly tortured man in frenzied attack, court told

Police searching Michael Danaher's Peterborough flat after his arrest
Police searching Michael Danaher's Peterborough flat after his arrest
Have your say

The man accused of stabbing an Oxford historian to death as he robbed him of a £50,000 classic novel rang his teenage son to complain of having a bad day hours after the frenzied attack, a court has heard.

Michael Danaher allegedly stabbed rare book trader Adrian Greenwood to death, possibly torturing him for information, before making off with a £50,000 first edition of The Wind In The Willows published in 1908, Oxford Crown Court was told.

Adrian Greenwood

Adrian Greenwood

The 50-year-old also concocted a “make-believe tale” to explain away cuts on his fingers and face to his 15-year-old son, who may have been present as he put the rare Kenneth Grahame classic up for auction on eBay the following evening, prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said.

Mr Saxby said: “His dad made up some story about being attacked in Southend by two men half his age ... What he said to his son was that he had been the victim of a theft, while also the victim of some kind of assault.”

The 15-year-old told police: “At first he said there was a knife hanging out of his cheek. Then he managed to get it out and fend off the others.”

This was “utter fiction”, Mr Saxby said, claiming the injuries were caused by grappling with Mr Greenwood, 42, as he fought for his life after being stabbed by Danaher 33 times in the hallway of his four storey home in Iffley Road, Oxford.

Remembering seeing his father the following day, the 15-year-old told police: “His back was hurting, his ribs were hurting, his chest was hurting. He had dried blood and there was a scab on his cheek.”

Asked what it looked like he replied: “Not a lot, to be honest, because he has a beard and that kind of covers it.”

Mr Greenwood’s name was allegedly found alongside celebrities including supermodel Kate Moss and author Jeffrey Archer in a “clinical” spreadsheet list Danaher had compiled containing high-profile targets for theft, robbery and ransom demands.

Danaher had also searched online for the homes of TV presenters Eamonn Holmes and Michael Parkinson, footballer Rio Ferdinand and music mogul Simon Cowell, and botched an attempt to enter the North London home of Wonga investor Adrian Beecroft two weeks prior.

Following the murder on April 6 Danaher, from Hadrians Court, Peterborough, searched “Oxfordshire” and “Oxfordshire rich list”, and had accessed a separate list he had named “Targets”, Mr Saxby told the court.

The next evening, he put the book on eBay, the prosecution claims, without its recognisable dust jacket and for a much cheaper sum than it was worth.

Mr Saxby said: “He’s still plotting. To say he has no remorse for what is happening does not begin to scratch the surface.

“That’s done - it’s behind him and to be used to his advantage.”

It seemed as though he was content to involve his teenage son in the whole “messy, horrible process” rather than shield him, he added.

Upon arrest on April 10, the defendant complained of feeling unwell and was taken to hospital, where he made “very curious remarks” that were “a million miles away” from those someone who had acted in lawful self-defence would make, the prosecutor argued.

Spotting a plastic children’s knife he said to officers: “You don’t wanna be leaving that near to me”, adding later: “It might be better if they just let me die here. I make bad life choices don’t I?”

When he was deemed well enough to be interviewed he denied murdering the academic at first but soon resorted to replying “no comment”, “because really there was no answer he could have given other than confessing to the brutal murder of Adrian Greenwood,” Mr Saxby said.