Janet Brown murder trial: I helped alleged killer forge will out of fear, says co-accused

Elizabeth Todd said alleged murderer Donald Graham told her "They won't find out if you keep your mouth shut"

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

A woman admitted helping Donald Graham forge a will but claimed she did it because she was frightened of what he was capable of, a court heard.

Elizabeth Todd said she faked Janet Brown’s father’s will so that everything would be left to Graham after he warned her: “They won’t find out if you keep your mouth shut”.

Elizabeth Todd said Graham had promised her they would get married after buying her a house but she said they never slept together and he rarely visited.

Prosecutors say Graham killed Hexham heiress Janet Brown then got Todd to pose as the dead woman and help him drain the estate of Janet and her parents.

In police interviews after her arrest, Todd eventually admitted forging the will of Eric Brown but claimed she did so due to her fear of Graham, although she said he never assaulted her.

She said: “He said he wanted me to write a will in my best handwriting.

“He said Janet owed him money and he said Eric said he wanted to change his will. I thought it was all above board.

“He said Janet was abroad. I said what if they find out and he said they won’t find out if you keep your mouth shut.”

Asked if she had not asked if what he was doing was dodgy, she replied: “Yes, but I was frightened. Just in case of what he was capable of.”

She added at another stage of the interviews: “I just think he can be quite intimidating, just when you look at him, I don’t know.”

Todd was asked about cards she had exchanged with Graham in which they make reference to being each other’s fiance and express their love.

But she said she was never in a proper relationship with him and never slept with him.

Todd said: “I swear on my grandchild’s life I have not slept with him.”

Shortly the pair were arrested on suspicion of fraud in 2010, she said Graham told her to get rid of any evidence linking them together. She told police: “He said any photos or anything that links us together, just get rid of it. But I said we were not together.

“He said to say to the police he took me to Janet’s to do some cleaning and that Janet was there and witnessed the will being made.

“I was thinking ‘this is a mess’ but he said ‘Don’t worry they have got nothing, it will all go away’.

“He said it just takes one person to say something and you’re ******.

“He said when it was all over we would get married.”

Graham, 60, of Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, denies murder but admits fraud. Todd, 51, of Elsdon Avenue, denies fraud, forgery and perverting justice. The trial continues.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer