Michael Danaher jailed for life for book murder

Michael Danaher jailed for life for book murder

Photo from the BBC


Earlier this year Adrian Greenwood, a 42 year old book dealer, was stabbed to death at his Oxford home, seemingly over a rare first edition.

On 24th October 2016 Michael Danaher, a 51 year old man who was struggling with £13,000 of debt was convicted of Mr Greenwood’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 34 years.



It reads a little like something out of a novel. Mr Danaher was in debt, but instead of going to Wonga for a load, he drew “up plans to rob, burgle or kidnap people to generate funds”. 

He created a spreadsheet of 14 ‘people of means’ with details of valuables that they might possess. It seems that Mr Danaher was intending to execute a plot against each of them, be it kidnap or robbery or something similar.

Mr Danaher’s explanation for this, namely that an ‘unknown man’ had used his computer to search for the details of celebrities and others of wealth.

The first attempt was (probably) on 22nd March 2016 when it seems that he pretended to be a courier to get into the house of Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist.

It is unclear what happened when Mr Greenwood was killed. We do know that he was stabbed 16 times, which made Mr Danaher’s defence of self-defence look fairly weak. For unspecified reasons, Mr Danaher took a selfie afterwards.

A first edition of the Wind in the Willows (valued at £50,000) was missing from Mr Greenwood’s house and turned up at the home of Mr Danaher, which would not have assisted the self-defence claim.

Another difficulty that he faced was that the spreadsheet showed the use of a stun gun as a weapon for some of the crimes, and a stun gun was found in his house.



The only sentence for this offence is life imprisonment. The question is the tariff – the minimum period that Mr Danaher will have to spend in prison before he can be considered for release (see our factsheet for how this is calculated).

This was a murder for gain (in effect, in the sense that there was financial motive), which gives a starting point of 30 years.

On top of that, there was the fact that there were 16 stabs – far above what would be needed to effect the murder. This would be an aggravating feature.

There is not a huge amount of detail, but although we would expect a sentence of 30 years plus, we would have thought that it would have been not quite as high as 34 on the basis that many of the aggravating features are factored in to the higher 30 year starting point.

Having said that, it is not so high that we would expect an appeal to be successful. Whether it does or not, it is worth remembering that Mr Danaher is now aged 51. A 34 year tariff takes him to 85, and even if there is a small reduction he will be well into his 80s before he could be considered for release.

Given that most people to not get out anywhere near ‘on tariff’, whatever happens it is likely that Mr Danaher will die in prison, or only be released on compassionate grounds if he is terminally ill.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. This is a terrible case . I am a bookdealer and knew Adrian a little . Adrian’s misfortune was to put up the Graham book on Ebay with a high price – in a way opening the gates to all undesirables to see it and then try to think of a way to obtain it illegally . Adrian was in business and clearly did not hide himself away with the likes of PO Boxes etc so Danaher was able to target him easily . In some ways Adrian was unusual in listing high value books on Ebay in I recall in an unusual category [ebay listing wise] . What has not come out in the reports is why Danaher targeted this book and Adrian in particular. Adrian does seem to be a typical victim in terms of Danaher’s “hit list”. Danaher is hardly a scholar and I suspect he must have come across Adrian’s listing by pure chance and then groomed and stalked him in a callous way – his actions hardly demonstrate a great criminal mind . They were at best brutal. RIP Adrian

  2. I worked with Mike for a few years and the most shocking part is this was totally unlike him. He was a decent hard working family man but took a decent pay out when the company was going through a “quiet period”. His misfortune was he was ripped off by a so called pyramid scheme, this left him in debt to the tune of £13,000. Why he decided to do what he did next is anyone’s guess, he got the sentence he deserved in my opinion but again the whole thing is a shock to me and to most people who know him. I wish Adrian’s family well and do not in anyway condone what Mike Danaher did. Most of all I’m sorry for his kids who will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. I obviously cannot use my real name so you’ll have to forgive me for that as I still work at the same place I/we did originally.