Axe woman tells court: I had to kill my lover

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The Independent Online

A woman who hacked her boyfriend to death with an axe told a jury yesterday that she had "no choice" but to kill him.

Jan Charlton, 36, said she was forced to kill Danny O'Brien , 40, out of fear for her safety and that of her young daughter. Within seconds of taking to the witness box, Ms Charlton was asked by her counsel, Robert Smith QC: "Are you able to say to the court why you killed Danny O'Brien?"

Ms Charlton replied: "There was no way my daughter was going to be harmed in any way and there's no way I was either. I hadn't got a choice."

She went on to describe her sex life with Mr O'Brien. The court was told how Mr O'Brien first came across as a loving and attentive boyfriend but he was possessive and jealous.

Ms Charlton was giving evidence at Leeds Crown Court where she is charged with murdering Mr O'Brien at their home in Midgley, West Yorkshire, on 23 May last year.

Mr O'Brien was found with an axe embedded in his head in his blood-spattered bedroom. He was naked, face down and had been hit at least 20 times, the court has been told.

Ms Charlton admits killing her lover but denies murder. She says she was acting in self defence after Mr O'Brien threatened to sexually assault and kill her and her four-year-old daughter, Amy.

Ms Charlton, who worked as an escort, broke down in tears as she described how she visited a sex club in Manchester with Mr O'Brien and had intercourse with "lots of men".

Asked by her barrister how she felt, she replied: "It was awful. I came out feeling like a piece of meat. I was cross with myself in the first place."

She said they first visited a sex club in Rochdale but she told the jury she "felt used" after a man had sex with her while Mr O'Brien watched.

Ms Charlton also said Mr O'Brien took her to a car park where she had sex with a stranger while Mr O'Brien watched.

She said: "He [Mr O'Brien] was really pleased I had done it. I couldn't believe I had. I had no great desire to do it again. I just felt a bit degraded."

Ms Charlton told the court she was first contacted by Mr O'Brien after she had asked for her details to be taken off the UK Escorts website.

She said he told her he had downloaded her information, printed it off and kept it.

She said he originally called her because he was looking for someone to take to the Hedonism resort in Jamaica but she told him she could not go.

Ms Charlton said she first went to his house in September, 2000. She said: "I really, really liked him. I was looking forward to seeing him again." She said the sex was normal and it was not until later she realised Mr O'Brien was involved in more extreme practices.

But she told the court she also became aware of Mr O'Brien's meticulous nature, which meant keeping his house spotless and extremely ordered. Ms Charlton will continue giving her evidence today.