Axe killer has sentence reduced

A former escort girl who hacked her wealthy lover to death with an axe has had her five-year prison sentence for his manslaughter reduced to three-and-a half years by the Court of Appeal.

Janet Charlton /PA

Janet Charlton, who was not present at London's Law Courts for the ruling, was cleared of the murder of 41-year-old Danny O'Brien at her trial at Leeds Crown Court in May last year, but was found guilty of manslaughter.

Charlton, 36, inflicted at least 20 blows to Mr O'Brien's head and shoulders with a fireman's axe at the home they shared in Midgley, Wakefield in May 2001.

Mr Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Elias said they had reached the conclusion that the five-year jail term for manslaughter was "excessive".

Her solicitor Carl Kingsley said afterwards: "It was an excellent result. She will be very pleased. It is a very compassionate sentence."

He said the adjustment of the sentence means that she should be released in a few months time.

During Charlton's seven-week trial the jury heard how Mr O'Brien was found lying naked, gagged, handcuffed and blindfolded with the 2ft axe sticking out of his skull.

The trial judge, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, told Charlton that she had committed a "grave offence" which left him with no choice but to give her a custodial sentence of a "significant" number of years.

At the appeal against sentence it was argued that the trial judge failed to give sufficient credit for her age, previous good character, and the "extreme" provocation.

Her counsel, John Elvidge, who described it as a "unique" case, pointed out that she was a devoted and caring mother who was no risk to the community "or any given individual".

Copyright © 2003 Ananova Ltd