Early next month, the UK Justice Secretary is set to meet with the family of a woman who was killed by estranged husband, about his upcoming release.
Robert Brown, formerly a British Airways pilot, bludgeoned Joanna Simpson to death with a claw hammer, whilst their two young children were in a nearby room.
Brown put her body in the boot of his car, pulled out the CCTV and telephone cables, told the children to get into the car and dropped them off at his pregnant girlfriend’s home.
He then dumped Joanna’s body in a grave he had spent months digging in Windsor Great Park.
Joanna grew up in the island, and her family still resides here.
In the trial, Brown was acquitted of murder by a jury at Reading crown court in May 2011, having admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
During the trial, the jury accepted the defence case that Brown had suffered from ‘adjustment disorder’, a temporary mental illness he blamed for the attack.
Whilst the jury did not find him guilty of murder, when sentencing Brown, the judge, Sir Jetemy Cooke, said: ‘You intended to kill, you intended to conceal the body and to hide the evidence of the killing.’
Robert Brown was given a 26 year sentence for the manslaughter of Joanna Simpson, and is due for automatic release on November 6.
Yet, in a fierce campaign headed up by family and friends of Joanna Simpson, they are calling for Justice Secretary Alex Chalk to block Brown’s release.
Under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act brought in in 2022, the Justice Secertary has a ‘power to detain’ and can refer a prisoner serving a standard determinate sentence to the Parole Board for the board to judge whether the prisoner is safe to be released.
Alex Chalk told the BBC earlier this month: ‘What I said is I will do everything I properly can within the law to keep the British people safe and to ensure there is justice in this case.’
He is set to meet Joanna’s family in early October.
Diana Parkes, the mother of Joanna Simpson, told the Examiner: ‘I am hopeful that Alex Chalk will refer Brown to the parole board.
‘He said that he has to do things properly, and I just hope that what he considers properly is enough to get Brown in front of the parole board.
‘If he does get released we will always be looking over our shoulders.
‘The jury got it so wrong. The common sense would be to keep Brown locked up forever after killing my daughter with 14 blows to the head. It is not just like one shot from a gun.
‘That is so horrendous, you can’t imagine anybody doing that, and then not getting a conviction of murder.
‘Brown is regarded a critical public protection case, he has not been allowed to go into an open prison, so he is going from a category C prison straight out into the public with no parole, because it is a determinate sentence you don’t get parole.
‘We are putting up lights and cameras around my house because we fear.
‘He said he hated our family for the eight years he was married to our daughter.’
She added: ‘We are hoping to make the Isle of Man an exclusion zone, which we have been told that we can.
‘The children live in fear of him being released, we’re all apprehensive, this has been going on for over 13 years and it’s emotionally exhausting.
‘He could be out in seven weeks, which when you think about it is absolutely frightening.
She added: ‘In memory of my daughter we set up the Joanna Simpson foundation because she loved children so much and our plan is to help protect and support children who have been affected by domestic violence.
‘At the moment our main focus is funding the full-time domestic abuse worker at the Children’s Centre in the Isle of Man.’