Majorca victim had violent history

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH divorcee murdered in a sex attack on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca was yesterday revealed to have spent her last hours on Sunday night drinking and displaying offbeat behaviour.

Suzanne O'Brien, 44, suffered from alcoholism and mental health problems. She was often seen in the resort of Puerto Alcudia with her possessions in a shopping trolley. Last weekend she was spotted slumbering on a bench outside a bar - a common occurrence, said neighbours.

On Sunday she was seen coming from her rented house with a well-built, dark-skinned man with a ponytail, who wore jeans and a T-shirt.

But police were last night still unable to explain the assault that left her dead on her bed, with slogans of "peace," "love" and "sex" daubed on the walls in her own blood.

The authorities believe that Ms O'Brien's killing was aplanned, ritual assassination by someone whom they describe as "clearly a madman, a psychopath". Sources believe that the murder took place after what were initially consensual sex games.

The killer stabbed her repeatedly, dislocated her jaw, tortured and sexually assaulted her with a gun. An autopsy revealed she died after being stabbed in the neck, according to sources close to the inquiry.

Yvonne Suzanne Graham was born and brought up in Keighley, West Yorkshire, before moving south in her teens.

She spent much of the 1980s as a middle-class housewife in the Home Counties. In 1985 she gave birth to a son. But somewhere things began to go wrong.

After he was told of MsO'Brien's death, her ex-husband Bernard, who still lives Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, said that they had undergone an "acrimonious" divorce in 1991 after eight years of marriage. He said: "It is just sad that somebody had to go in those circumstances."

Mr O'Brien, a former freelance television videotape editor, has custody of their son, now 14. He said: "I knew she was in Majorca somewhere, but I have avoided contact with her since the divorce."

The personal trauma of their divorce might have remained private had Ms O'Brien not become increasingly volatile and her drink-fuelled behaviour not brought her to the local court.

On 24 August 1993 two police officers were called by neighbours to her home in Gerrards Cross. Ms O'Brien later said she had thought they were electricity board officials come to cut her off.

Clearly under the influence of alcohol, she had sworn at officers, aimed a crossbow at them and threatened to light a homemade petrol bomb. The officers retreated and called for reinforcements. She held 18 police officers at bay.

After two-and-a-half hours the police forced their way in and arrested her. Officers found an small armoury of weapons in Ms O'Brien's bedroom including a sword, an air pistol and pellets and four petrol bombs.

A year later, following psychological assessment, she appeared in court. Judge John Slack told her: "Anybody, anybody, on learning of your position, would feel sympathy for you, and I do, given the pressures that were upon you."

Giving her two years' probation on the condition she undertook counselling, he added: "I believe it is in the public interest that you should rendered assistance whereby as far as possible the future years of life be led in a happier environment."

Afterwards, Ms O'Brien spoke of her relief at not being jailed. "I feel a great weight has been lifted off my mind." Following this episode she moved to a flat in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and began begun to spend part of the year in Majorca. But she got into further trouble last year.

A neighbour, Dominic Day, told how she had pulled a gun on his girlfriend, Kelly Brumby, in the middle of the night last summer. Mr Day, 27, a computer consultant, said: "We'd had a few run-ins with her."

"One night Kelly couldn't sleep because of the noise. She went to flat above, where Ms O'Brien lived, and asked her to turn down the music."

Ms Brumby, 25, called the police after Ms O'Brien threatened to shoot her. "I was absolutely terrified," she said.

Following her second arrest Ms O'Brien apparently sold her flat and left for Majorca. "A bit of a drinker," neighbours said yesterday in High Wycombe, "but a really nice person. She loved her dog."

But she had suffered mood swings consistent with alcoholism, said neighbours, and had been expelled from a number of local bars after several "disagreeable episodes". Neighbours described her as "slightly eccentric" with headphones constantly clamped to her head to listen to music.

She did not work, and is thought to have lived off her divorce settlement. Some neighbours said she had been seen with some "funny people".

Police in Spain and from Scotland Yard and Interpol remained baffled by her murder yesterday, and despite a massive search operation, had not identified a suspect, a motive or a murder weapon. "We're working round the clock, day and night," a police spokesman in Alcudia said yesterday. "We're checking on her movements over the weekend and trying to find one of her several men friends. We've got to get him."

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