'No one will be safe': Friends of woman killed by British Airways pilot husband call for early release to be blocked

12 September 2023, 13:42

Robert Brown could be released in November
Robert Brown could be released in November. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Friends of a woman whose pilot husband was jailed for killing her have called for his release to be blocked.

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Robert Brown, a British Airways captain, was sent to prison for 13 years for the manslaughter of his wife Joanna Simpson, 46, in 2010.

He denied murder but admitted the lesser charge on the grounds of diminished responsibility after the killing, which he committed as their divorce was going through.

Brown, 59, had subjected her to a years-long regime of abuse and coercive behaviour before the killing.

He is now due to be released on licence in November, having served half of his 26-year sentence.

Read more: Mother of woman killed by pilot pleads with justice secretary to step in to halt possible release

Read more: 'Women are scared stiff of going to court': Three quarters of domestic abuse survivors left without support in court

Robert Brown
Robert Brown. Picture: Alamy

Ms Simpson's mother, Diana Parkes, said that Brown is "not fit to be released, and that he should stay in prison for as long as possible".

Brown, who lived in Winkfield in Berkshire, killed Ms Simpson as their two young children hid in the playroom. He hit her at least ten times.

He then dumped her body in a makeshift coffin in Windsor Great Park. Brown was jailed in 2011.

Ms Simpson's friends and mother, as well as Carrie Johnson, have called for the Ministry of Justice to block his release.

Joanna Simpson
Joanna Simpson. Picture: Alamy

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton said: "How could I possibly stand by and see Brown, who I believe is a very dangerous psychopath, freed onto our streets without doing anything to stop it?

"No woman is safe. I'm frightened - we all are."

She added: "If he is allowed out of prison he will feel wronged.

"No one will be safe - we are dealing with the devil."

Joanna Simpson's mother Diana Parkes (centre) and Carrie Johnson (right) in Westminster, London, for the launch of a campaign to prevent release of Robert Brown in March
Joanna Simpson's mother Diana Parkes (centre) and Carrie Johnson (right) in Westminster, London, for the launch of a campaign to prevent release of Robert Brown in March. Picture: Alamy

Another friend, Belinda Skudder, said she got a phone call from Ms Simpson at night in July 2007, asking Ms Skudder to come over, and saying Brown had threatened to stab her to death.

Ms Barkworth-Nanton and Ms Parks have set up the Joanna Simpson Foundation to help the child victims of domestic abuse.

The Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said earlier this year: "It was one of the first meetings I had as Justice Secretary and it was so, so appalling to hear what happened, I found it personally very painful to hear.

"What I said is I will do everything I will do everything I properly can within the law to keep the British people safe and to ensure there is justice in this case," he told the BBC.

"There is not much more I can properly say because there is a danger that frankly you prejudge issues.

"But the family have my word and Hetti, her friend, has my word, we will do everything we can to keep her safe and to ensure there is justice in her case."