“Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way. He clearly saw how simple — how narrow even — it all was; but clearly, too, how much it meant to him, and the special value of some anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.”
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows
The safety and comfort of a home to return to is a luxury many of us take for granted. We all feel the same relief when we step through our front door, drop our keys, and flop on the nearest seat. Ah, we’re home.
It’s another feeling when we invite others into our home. How we treat our place when people visit changes depending on whether they’re familiar or strangers. We may not prepare the spot equally when our guests arrive, but we always feel safe, comfortable, and in control in our home.
Adrian Greenwood, a 42-year-old a British historian, author, and art dealer deserved to feel safe in his own home.
On April 7, 2016, Greenwood was found dead in the hallway of his Oxford home by his cleaning person. He had been stabbed over 30 times in the head, neck, and chest in what appeared to be a “vicious and sustained attack,” according to police.
His skin was covered in puncture wounds and dark bruises, indicating that he was likely tortured. His arm was broken, likely having been stamped on. Police found a knife handle at the scene, but no blade.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Having been internationally known for his collection of priceless historical artifacts, original art, and rare first edition books; items such as signed wartime photographs of Winston Churchill, a first illustrated edition of Frankenstein, an oil painting by George Bernard Shaw, and a 16th Century Bible. It didn’t take investigators very long to suspect that this was a robbery.
Police searched the residence with a list of all of Greenwood’s valuable items worth £2000 or more. After a meticulous search, investigators were unable to find the art dealer’s rare first edition copy of the Kenneth Grahame novel, The Wind in the Willows, valued at £50,000.
Also missing, Greenwood’s mobile phone. Catching a break, police were able to track the device leaving Oxford around 3 pm the day of the murder all the way to Peterborough. After hours and hours of searching CCTV, police determined that only one car traveled the same route at the same time: a blue Citroen Picasso owned by a Michael Danahar.
Danaher, 50, was unemployed and living alone in a one bedroom apartment in Peterborough. He was separated from his wife, Elaine, with whom he had two children, ages 15 and 9. Danaher could be described as a morbidly obese, sullen man. He had no criminal history.
The former senior manager at an engineering company was seriously struggling financially, deeply in debt, and hadn’t had much luck recovering. His only stable source of income was selling random items on eBay.
One of those items was a rare first edition of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. He was selling it on eBay for £17,000. Sure enough, after arresting Danaher on suspicion for murder and upon searching his residence, a copy of the classic children’s novel identical to Greenwood’s was found.
Further implicating him, a spreadsheet entitled “Enterprises” was found on Danaher’s laptop listing 14 “people of means.” Among the targets researched for blackmail, kidnapping, or burglary were novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer, model Kate Moss, reality TV judge Simon Cowell, and art dealer Adrian Greenwood.
Internet history revealed that Danaher repeatedly searched for “Adrian Greenwood,” “rare books Oxford,” and “Wind in the Willows.” Police believed that Danaher zeroed in on Greenwood as he learned that his target was in possession of, and a proficient dealer in, valuable items and lived alone in an unguarded, easy to access residence.
If that weren’t enough, Danaher’s fingerprints were found at the scene and on the missing knife blade. He even took a selfie after the crime.
Despite his claims that he killed Greenwood out of self-defense, it took a jury less than two hours to find Danaher guilty at Oxford Crown Court.
He was sentenced to prison for a minimum of 34 years.
In an interview, Danaher’s now ex-wife Elaine said, “The hardest part for me right now is having to go home and tell the boys that their father is going to be in prison until he’s 85. And for what?
“He’s thrown it all away just for the money. Why couldn’t he just say he was struggling for money? It’s so hard to understand.”
It’s difficult to comprehend why Danaher felt desperate enough to target a man, invade his home, and kill him over a book. Plenty of us have felt the stinging ulcer that is financial pressure, and those of us who have known what it’s like to feel desperate enough to do almost whatever it takes to stay above water.
But have we felt desperate enough to kill?