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Mother's plea to find son's alleged killer as £50,000 reward offered for Britain's most wanted

Shane O'Brien is one of Britain's most wanted fugitives. Credit: Met Police

The mother of the victim of an unprovoked knife attack in London has issued a heartfelt plea to help find her son's killer as a new five-figure reward is offered for Britain's most wanted fugitive.

Shane O'Brien, 28, is the chief suspect in the murder of 21-year-old Josh Hanson, who was killed in a bar in Hillingdon, west London.

On the second anniversary of the murder, detectives have upped the reward for finding O'Brien to £50,000.

The suspect, who heads the National Crime Agency's "most wanted" list, is believed to have fled abroad and is known to have changed his appearance.

In February this year he was arrested in Prague for criminal damage and assault, but used the Italian alias of Enzo Mellonceli, supported by false documentation, and was bailed pending further enquiries.

An image taken then shows he has grown his hair, has a full beard and has a distinctive new tattoo of an owl holding a skull, which covers up his previous "Shannon 15-04-06" tattoo.

A new tattoo on the back of fugitive Shane O'Brien. Credit: Met Police

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, from the Met's homicide and major crime command, said the £50,000 reward for information leading to O'Brien's arrest and conviction "demonstrated the Met's determination" in finding him.

He said: "It is clear he is being helped by others to evade police and has the ability to move around without using his own identity.

"That is why we decided to offer such a large reward... I hope it will encourage someone who moves in O'Brien's circles to come forward."

"When arrested in Prague, O'Brien had boxing gloves with him.

"He uses gyms and will continue to do so I'm sure.

Shane O'Brien is believed to have grown out his hair and beard. Credit: Met Police

"His new tattoo is so distinctive it should stick in the mind of fellow boxers, or possibly a new partner.

"I would like to hear from the tattoo artist who covered up his original 'Shannon 15-04-06' tattoo - it would have taken several sittings."

Mr Hanson, from Kingsbury in north-west London, was found with a serious wound to the neck at the RE Bar in Hillingdon at about 1.10am on October 11 2015. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Josh Hanson was killed in an unprovoked knife attack in 2015. Credit: Met Police

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as haemorrhage, inhalation of blood and an incised wound to the neck.

A reward for information initially stood at £10,000, before being increased to £20,000 last year.

  • A mother's two year wait for justice
Tracey Hanson with her late son Josh. Credit: Met Police

Mr Hanson's mother, Tracey Hanson, said the past two years had been "a living nightmare".

Take a minute and look at your child and imagine your world without him or her...no - neither could have I done before my son was brutally murdered in a totally unprovoked knife attack on 11 October 2015.

These past 24 months have been a living nightmare, a nightmare that I would not wish on anyone.

I nurtured my son from the moment I saw him, held his hand while he took his first steps, handed him his school bag on his first day of school and watched him grow into a bright, capable, funny and loving young man who worked hard and provided for his family. We laughed and cried together and shared our innermost thoughts and secrets; he was my son and he was also my best friend.

Imagine pouring over photos and small video clips because that is all that is left that can bring you close to almost touching your child, and imagine having to share your pain and your grieving alongside a manhunt.

While we grieve Shane O'Brien, the man the police would like to speak to in connection with my son's murder, has yet to be caught and we still wait for justice.

Justice for the most heinous crime that my son had to endure and justice to ensure that innocent people are safe.

I hope and pray that you only ever have to imagine what I have just shared with you and it never becomes your reality because it rips at your soul and your very being.

Please can you help us, Josh leaves behind a sister and a family who miss and love him very much.

Take a moment to look around you and if you think you may have seen O'Brien please call the police.

Someone has seen him and all it takes is that one phone call to help us get justice so we can grieve in peace.

– Tracey Hanson

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

Call police immediately on 999 if you spot him. Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the police on 020 8785 8099.