Woman 'could have forgotten committing axe murder'

A memory expert has told a jury it is "plausible" that a woman who hacked to death her boyfriend with an axe completely forgot the killing until six weeks after it happened.

Professor Michael Kopelman was giving evidence in the trial of Jan Charlton, who has admitted killing businessman Danny O'Brien, 40, at their home in Midgley, West Yorkshire.

Mr O'Brien was found with an axe embedded in his head on May 23 last year and Ms Charlton denies murder.

Prof Kopelman, who is a consultant neuro-psychiatrist at St Thomas's Hospital, London, said he had interviewed mother-of-one Charlton about her claims that she did not remember the killing until the memory came back more than a month after the incident.

He told the jury: "All I, as an expert, want to tell you is that this kind of amnesia can occur, is plausible and that there have been related similar cases in the past."

The jury has heard how Charlton first claimed no knowledge of the killing, saying she had simply discovered the body after returning from a trip to the park with her three-year-old daughter, Amy.

But she later walked into a police station and told detectives how she had hit Mr O'Brien with the axe three or four times after he'd threatened to kill both her and Amy.

The professor told the court amnesia in homicides was most common in what he called "crimes of passion".

Asked about whether Charlton could have falsified her memory loss, he said one factor which stood out was that she allowed her young daughter to come upstairs with her when she discovered the body.

Charlton, 36, denies murder claiming both self-defence and provocation.

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