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The British Airways Killer: where is Robert Brown now?

Robert Brown was sentenced to 26 years in prison

The British Airways Killer: where is Robert Brown now?
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Viewers were shocked to hear about the terrifying case behind the death of an heiress, Joanna Simpson, in the new ITV documentary The British Airways Killer. The episode follows the true story of a police investigation into the murder of the mother of two - who was killed at the hands of her pilot husband. So what happened to Joanna, and where is Robert Brown now? 

Joanna was bludgeoned to death by her husband in October 2010 in Ascot, Berkshire. The pair had been going through a divorce, which had been days away from being finalised, when Joanne, 46, was attacked and killed by Robert while their children, nine and ten, were in the house. 

Joanna with her two children
Joanna with her two children

Following the murder, he took the children to his partner’s home and buried Joanna’s body in a grave that he had already dug, which was discovered during the police investigation. He later called the police to report a domestic issue, eventually confessing to the murder and leading them to her body. 

Where is Robert Brown now? 

Although Robert was found not guilty of murder, he was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility - due to a stress-related condition called adjustment disorder, and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

At the time, Lord Justice Cooke told him: “Had you denied manslaughter, the longest sentence I could give is 36 years imprisonment. Bearing in mind your early guilty plea, I sentence you to 24 years in prison.” He was given an additional two years for obstructing the coroner. 

The British Airways Killer, Robert Brown
The British Airways Killer, Robert Brown

He added: “You were angry at the way in which she conducted the divorce. You were angry because you felt she wasn’t giving you any say in your children’s education. You took the hammer with you, hidden in your children’s homework bag. Striking her 14 times was done with the intent of killing her. The box had been put in place for one reason.” 

Robert was due to be released in March 2024 having served half of his 26-year sentence, but the Justice secretary and Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk intervened due to a request from Joanna’s family, instead referring the automatic release to the Parole Board. 

The pair were one week from finalising their divorce
The pair were one week from finalising their divorce

Speaking about the move, Joanna’s mother Diana Parkes said: “I am delighted that Alex Chalk, the lord chancellor, has blocked Robert Brown’s automatic release and is referring the decision to the Parole Board. Having to continuously relive my daughter’s brutal killing is emotionally exhausting.

“We hope that the Parole Board will appreciate how dangerous Robert Brown is and we fear for the safety of our family, Jo’s friends and any female he may form a relationship with in the future. We would urge them to keep him in jail.” 

Alex added: “Joanna Simpson was bludgeoned and buried at the hands of Robert Brown, which left two children without a mother and caused irreparable harm to her family and loved ones. I made a commitment to Joanna’s family that I would give this case my closest personal attention.

Jo was battered to death by her husband BA Captain Robert Brown
Jo was battered to death by her husband BA Captain Robert Brown

“Having reviewed all the information available to me, I have blocked Brown’s automatic release and referred this case to the parole board using powers we introduced to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders.”

Meanwhile, Robert, 60, has launched legal action against the decision, with his lawyer, barrister Iain Steele, telling the High Court: “[He] is now considered to indicate a high risk of serious harm to the public. This is an increase [from] the time of sentencing in 2011.

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