Search icon


18th Jun 2018

15 potential sightings of British murder fugitive since being added to Interpol’s most wanted

A £50,000 reward is being offered by police for information leading to Shane O'Brien's arrest and prosecution

Oli Dugmore

A £50,000 reward is being offered by police for information leading to Shane O’Brien’s arrest and prosecution

Since being placed on Interpol’s worldwide most-wanted list last month, there have been 15 potential sightings of a man who has been on the run from UK police for three years.

Shane O’Brien, 30, is alleged to have murdered 21-year-old Josh Hanson in an unprovoked knife attack in a west London bar in 2015. According to a witness he asked Hanson what his problem was and stabbed him in the neck, leaving him to bleed to death

The Met Police have opened 46 murder investigations into killings involving knives in London this year, but the reason for O’Brien’s international fugitive status is that he then fled the country on a private jet chartered at Biggin Hill. He disappeared.

Since, sightings have been reported in Thailand, the Netherlands and Dubai. He has evaded international efforts to arrest him for three years and now finds himself on a most-wanted list that includes al-Qaeda terrorists and war criminals.

In February 2017, he was arrested in Prague for criminal damage and assault and detectives now believe he was in the city for at least seven months. He was using the Italian alias of Enzo Mellonceli, supported by false documentation, and was bailed pending further enquiries. He is known to have frequented the city’s nightclubs and boxing gyms.

An image taken then shows he had changed his appearance, growing his hair into long greasy locks and a full beard. He had also covered a tattoo of a girl’s name and date of birth with a distinctive design of an owl holding a skull. O’Brien is also believed to have used another alias – Enzo Machado. Machado means ‘axe’ in Portuguese.

Another person came forward to say O’Brien may have been in Gibraltar around the same time. Information was also received that O’Brien may have been in Nice in early November. Officers are also investigating reports of sightings in Bari, Italy.

O’Brien’s cousin Jason Manners was recently jailed for 14 years for his role in a £10m cocaine ring and possession of a firearm. A friend, Joseph Peel, was also jailed for 16 years for smuggling cocaine and heroin via helicopter from Holland to Britain. When police arrested Peel they seized kilos of the class A drugs with a street value of £12 million as well as 30 encrypted mobile phones. Both Peel and Manners lived on the west London estate where O’Brien grew up.

A £50,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.

A month ago O’Brien was placed on Interpol’s Most Wanted list.

Since then there have been 15 potential sightings reported to police or the National Crime Agency, who are working abroad to track down O’Brien. Four of these have been investigated and eliminated from enquiries but work continues on the rest. In particular efforts are focused on Marbella in Spain, Bangkok in Thailand and Dubai.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “We are really pleased with the response to our appeals since O’Brien was placed on Interpol’s list and would urge people to keep their eyes open wherever they are in the world. Please don’t be discouraged by the fact some potential sightings have been investigated and discounted – we want to hear from anyone and everyone who thinks they see O’Brien or has any information no matter how small.

An appeal in October 2017, to mark two years since Josh’s tragic death, also prompted a number of people to come forward with possible information about Shane O’Brien and detectives have been working hard since then to gather more information.

Three days after the appeal, information was received that a man matching O’Brien’s description had been seen in central Prague on several occasions; the last time around mid-September 2017.

Detective McHugh said: “Were these sightings of Shane O’Brien? We know he has been travelling extensively since Josh’s murder and has the ability to move around without using his own identity with the help of others.

“Based on what we know about O’Brien’s lifestyle and interests, we are looking to people in nightclubs and boxing gyms as well as ex-pats and any women he may have become involved with to come forward. Those who have been in close proximity to him may well have seen his distinctive and rather poor quality cover-up tattoo of a owl holding a skull. As always, any calls we receive with information will be dealt with in the upmost confidence.

“After more than two-and-a-half years, some may feel that will we never catch O’Brien. But with the work that has and continues to be done, I believe we are making it more and more difficult for those supporting and helping O’Brien to remain hidden and there will come a point where they will see him as a liability and they will make that anonymous call. It is hugely significant that he is now included on Interpol’s worldwide most wanted list, we now have a global appeal, it is about reducing O’Brien’s options.”

Josh’s mum, Tracey, said: “Josh has not been a part of our lives now for two years and eight months and every day it is getting harder to cope without justice for him.

“Josh was just 21 years of age and at the prime of his life. We are asking the public to help us to get justice for Josh by sharing the wanted poster, so that we can grieve for him in peace.”

O’Brien, originally from Ladbroke Grove, is described as white and 6ft with grey eyes and dark brown hair.

Two men have so far been arrested as part of the investigation into Josh’s murder.

On 28 October 2015, detectives arrested a 24-year-old man [A] and a 29-year-old man [B] – who were on an inbound flight to the UK – on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. Both were later released with no further action.

Anyone with information about O’Brien or his whereabouts can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit, the police incident room on 020 8785 8099 or the National Crime Agency’s public line on 0370 496 7622, which is staffed 24 hours a day.