Janet Brown murder trial: Gran on trial says she was terrified of murder accused

Elizabeth Todd said she was scared of losing the home in Seaton Delaval Donald Graham bought her and that he told her Janet was alive and well abroad

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

A woman facing charges linked to an alleged murder said she was terrified of the man accused of the killing.

Elizabeth Todd said she was terrified of Donald Graham and claimed he told her she’d lose the home he bought her if she went to the police.

Todd told jurors she was so scared of the murder suspect she did as he he told her.

Prosecutors claim she helped Graham fleece Janet Brown and her parents after he allegedly murdered the wealthy Hexham heiress.

Todd admitted lying to the police after her arrest last year but insisted Graham was telling her what to say.

She said: “I was really terrified if I didn’t do what I was told by Mr Graham. He basically said if I said anything to the police I would get my home taken off me.

“My two sons, daughter-in-law and her baby and myself were living there and I was terrified I was going to lose my home.

“I had to go along with him and do what he said. He kept going on and on, saying ‘do this, do that’.”

Todd said she began to tell the truth to the police when they told her something about Graham and his wife.

She said: “I just couldn’t take anymore. He had gone on and on, saying ‘Do this, do this, don’t say anything to anyone’.

“It just got the point where I thought I had to tell the truth and I couldn’t go on like this.”

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Robert Smith QC, Todd blamed Graham for landing her in trouble.

She said: “He has done all this to me. He lied and got me in trouble with the police.

“All the time I was helping him I believed Janet was abroad. He told me that all the time.”

Todd was asked by Mr Smith if she had asked Graham for an explanation after they were both arrested.

She said: “I asked him but he didn’t want to talk about it.

“He said it was in the past and he said ‘there’s nothing going to happen with the police.”

Todd added: “I was just trying to keep everyone happy.

“My mam was not well. He just went on and on and on.”

Prosecutors claim Graham murdered Janet, 45, from Lowgate, Hexham, in June 2005.

She was about to go on holiday to France but was allegedly killed before she left the country and has not been seen since. Europe-wide searches have found no trace.

Prosecutors say Graham took advantage of the fact Janet was due to go abroad in order to kill her and make it appear she had just decided not to return.

It is alleged Graham murdered his lover in order to get his hands on her estate in an “audacious fraud” to fund his love of luxury cars and to buy his new lover a house.

He had persuaded Janet to transfer £300,000 into his account and the money dropped just a day before she disappeared.

It is claimed Graham killed her, disposed of her body then fleeced Janet and her elderly parents out of their estate.

Todd is accused of helping him commit fraud by making phone calls pretending to be Janet and helping to forge her dad, Eric’s, will.

It is claimed Graham also ingratiated himself with Janet’s elderly parents after her death and started systematically stripping their estate and assets.

Todd, 52, of Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval, denies fraud, forgery and perverting the course of justice.

Graham, 60, of Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval and formerly of Sparty Lea, Northumberland, denies murder and perverting the course of justice but has pleaded guilty to fraud offences.

The trial at Newcastle Crown Court continues.


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