Killer pilot who bludgeoned his wife to death has his automatic release blocked

12 October 2023, 07:09

Robert Brown has had his automatic release from prison blocked
Robert Brown has had his automatic release from prison blocked. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A British Airways captain who bludgeoned his wife to death 13 years ago has had his automatic release from prison blocked by the Justice Secretary.

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Robert Brown beat his wife Joanna Simpson to death with a claw hammer in their family home in October 2010, as their two young children hid away in a playroom.

He was cleared of murder, having admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and was due to be released on licence in November after serving 13 years of a 26-year sentence.

But Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has confirmed he will use new powers to stop Brown being released automatically and instead get the case reviewed by the Parole Board.

The announcement marks a victory for Ms Simpson's loved ones who have been calling for an intervention.

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Alex Chalk blocked Brown's automatic release
Alex Chalk blocked Brown's automatic release. Picture: Alamy

Mr Chalk made the referral under "power to detain" provisions. It was enabled following changes introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 - overriding Brown's automatic release.

The Parole Board will make a decision on whether to release Brown in due course, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

Mr Chalk said: "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.

"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."

Ms Simpson's mother Diana Parkes said she was "delighted" by Mr Chalk's intervention, and urged the Parole Board to "keep him in jail".

"Having to continuously relive my daughter's brutal killing is emotionally exhausting," she said in a statement.

"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."

Brown, formerly of Winkfield in Berkshire, was sentenced to 24 years for manslaughter and a further two years for an offence of obstructing a coroner in the execution of his duty.

He killed Ms Simpson one week before the finalisation of their divorce and dumped her body in a makeshift coffin in Windsor Great Park.

The Parole Board has been approached for comment.

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