Reporter reveals how fateful message saw her caught up in author's brutal murder over £50,000 book


Antique book seller and author Adrian Greenwood was brutally murdered in his Oxford home last year.

The 42-year-old was tortured and stabbed to death by 25st killer Michael Danaher, who attacked him when he refused to hand over his £50,000 edition of The Wind in the Willows.

The intriguing and sensational case is now the focus of a Channel 4 documentary – Catching A Killer: The Wind In The Willows Murder – which is on tomorrow night at 9pm.

The blade of a knife used by Michael Danaher to torture and stab Adrian Greenwood to death

During the murder investigation, it came to light that Sunday Mail features writer Heather Greenaway was the last person to be in contact with Adrian before his death on April 6, 2016.

Here, Heather talks about her involvement in the case that bore all the markings of an Inspector Morse mystery.

Heather’s story

Reporter Heather Greenway had arranged to interview Adrian the day he was murdered.

When I arranged to speak to Adrian Greenwood about his latest book, I never dreamed I’d end up part of the police investigation into his murder.

It turned out I was the last person to be in contact with him before he died.

I had phoned him on the morning of April 6 to interview him about his biography of Victorian general Colin Campbell but there was no answer.

At 11.56am, I received an email from Adrian apologising for missing my call and saying he would phone me at 12pm the following day – of course the call never came.

I thought nothing more about it until I opened the paper a few days later and read about his horrific death. I was so shocked. He had emailed me the day
he died.

Historian Adrian was only 42 when he was murdered.

It wasn’t long before Thames Valley police were on the phone looking to speak to me about my relationship with Adrian. By this stage, I was back in Northern Ireland visiting my mum.

For a while, I felt like a suspect as, to someone who doesn’t understand the variety of our work, it looked like I had phoned the victim and then fled to Ulster after his death.

After being questioned several times over the phone, the police came to interview me and take a statement.

It took two hours and they left with copies of the correspondence I’d had with Adrian. It soon became clear my emails were a vital part of establishing a timeline for his murder.

The last sighting of the book dealer had been at a Sainsbury’s store at 6pm on April 5, yet he had emailed me just before noon the next day.

The police told me they had CCTV footage of Adrian letting his killer in at 12.20pm – just 24 minutes after writing to me. I felt sick.

After stabbing Adrian more than 30 times in the hallway of his £640,000 home, a blood-soaked Michael Danaher posed for a chilling selfie before casually strolling away.

Blood-soaked Danaher takes selfie after murdering Adrian Greenwood

A few hours after leaving Adrian to bleed to death, Danaher, a 51-year-old loner, of Peterborough, put the first-edition copy of the Kenneth Grahame classic he had stolen on eBay for the knockdown price of £2000.

After searching Danaher’s flat, police uncovered a spreadsheet containing targets for theft, robbery and ransom demands which included model Kate Moss and author Jeffrey Archer.

Further investigation revealed the heavily indebted killer had also searched online for the homes of Simon Cowell and TV presenter Michael Parkinson.

Thames Valley police also discovered that, two weeks before Adrian’s murder, Danaher had tried to carry out a raid at the London home of wealthy investor Adrian Beecroft.

Heather Greenaway (right) was the last person to be in contact with Adrian (left) before his death on April 6, 2016.

He had posed as a delivery driver and tried to force his way in past Beecroft’s wife Jacqueline. But he was forced to flee when she shouted to her staff to call the police.

During his trial at Oxford Crown Court in October 2016, the jury took just two hours to find Danaher unanimously guilty of murder and he was sentenced to a minimum of 34 years in jail.

Although as a journalist you write about murders, you never think you’ll inadvertently become caught up in one.

My heart goes out to Adrian’s family and I hope they take some comfort in the legacy he has left behind through his writing.

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