Suspects in court over murder of Northumberland woman Janet Brown

A murder suspect has appeared in court accused of killing missing Northumberland woman Janet Brown.

Janet Anne Hewitson Brown
Janet Anne Hewitson Brown

Donald Graham, 59. has been charged with the heiress’ murder along with two counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and 13 counts of fraud.

He appeared before magistrates yesterday alongside Elizabeth Todd, 51, who is charged with forgery, conspiracy to commit fraud, and perverting the course of justice.

Janet was 45 when she was last seen alive in 2005.

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

At first friends of Janet were unconcerned by her disappearance.

Independent and self-sufficient she was prone to take spontaneous trips abroad and would not be in touch until she returned

But 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. Janet’s pals have paid tribute to her and told of their sadness at her disappearance.

Former market researcher colleague, Sheila Watchorn, said: “Janet was lovely – very, very pretty and very well spoken.

“She had horses and was something of an entrepreneur, and made a lot of money from renovating property.

“Among other things, she bought a cottage on Stagshaw Bank near Corbridge, next to a pub, and she made all the curtains and put the kitchen in. She did a bit of film work, but only in bit-parts. She was never an actress, as some people have said, as when she was an extra on the programme Distant Shores shortly before she disappeared.”

And Rachael Hall, who has been friends with Janet for more than 20 years, was stunned when she heard about the alarming twist in the missing person inquiry.

The 66-year-old, who runs a tanning shop in North Shields, said: “We were all hoping she’d gone overseas. We thought she might have just gone on one of her jaunts. She would often go travelling and not contact anyone.”

Mr Graham and Ms Todd, both of Elsdon Avenue in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, appeared before Newcastle Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The case was adjourned and they were remanded in custody until the next hearing, which will be on Tuesday at the city’s crown court.

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