Murder suspect Donald Graham denies murdering missing heiress

Donald Graham denies the murder of missing Northumberland heiress Janet Brown and also pleads not guilty to plundering more than £300,000

Northumbria Police/PA Wire Janet Brown, who disappeared in 2005
Janet Brown, who disappeared in 2005

A man has denied murdering missing Northumberland heiress Janet Brown and a series of fraud offences linked to her estate.

Donald Graham is accused of killing Janet and pocketing more than £300,000 in alleged dishonesty offences.

Janet, from Hexham, was 45 when she disappeared in 2005 and her body has never been found.

Yesterday Graham, of Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, pleaded not guilty to murdering Janet between June 14 and 18 2005.

The 59-year-old also denied two counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception and 13 counts of fraud.

Graham and Elizabeth Todd, 51, both also pleaded not guilty to joint charges of forgery, conspiracy to commit fraud and perverting the course of justice.

The joint forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud charges alleged the pair made a false will in the name of Janet’s father, Eric Brown.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the perverting the course of justice allegation relates to doing acts intended to give the impression Janet was still alive by Todd making phone calls pretending to be Janet.

The pair will stand trial in May, with the case expected to last at least eight weeks.

Judge James Goss QC told them: “You each having pleaded not guilty to the various counts, a trial will take place in May.”

Graham is accused of obtaining money transfer by deception in September 2006, allegedly organising £80,000 to be moved from Janet’s account to his.

He is also charged with a similar offence two months later involving £5,500.

The 13 fraud charges include claims he stole £123,000 between June 2008 and May 2009, and £37,800 between December 2008 and April 2010. Various other amounts were also allegedly defrauded from Janet and her parents in 2008 and 2009.

Janet, a keen traveller, lived with her millionaire parents Eric, a retired accountant, and Olive, at Plane Trees Farm in the Lowgate area of Hexham.

Concerns were raised when she failed to attend the funerals of her parents, who died in 2007 and 2008.

A murder investigation was launched in 2011.

Police first dug up land near Janet’s family home, then a major search was carried out on 40 acres of farmland at remote Green Hills Farm, near Sparty Lea on the wide open Northumberland moors between Allendale and Allenheads.

But the victim’s body has never been found.

Graham, of Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval, was further remanded in custody.

Todd, formerly also of Elsdon Avenue, was bailed to a new address in Seaton Delaval.

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