Grandmother's fear as daughter's killer is set for early release

Grandmother whose daughter was brutally killed by her BA pilot husband who’s set to be released after serving half his sentence says: ‘I wish he’d kill me so he’d be put away for good’

  • Diana Parkes joined Lorraine this morning to speak about daughter’s 2010 death
  • Joanna Simpson from Ascot was killed by her estranged husband Robert Brown
  • Diana took her in two  grandchildren but is terrified for them 
  • Brown will be released next November, after serving half of his 26 year sentence 

A grandmother has revealed her fears for her family as her daughter’s killer approaches early release from prison.

Diana Parkes, took in and raised her two young grandchildren in 2010, after her daughter Joanna Simpson was brutally killed at the age of 46 by her estranged husband, Robert Brown, when their two children were nearby. 

Joanna who ran a successful 5 star B&B in Ascot was a week away from divorcing Brown who was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, and given a 26-year sentence in May 2011.

After serving half his sentence, he is due for release in November 2023, and Diana is desperate to get support for her family. 

Appearing on Lorraine today she said: ‘I’m fine, I’ve lived my life. In a way I wish he would kill me, then they’ll all be safe, because he would definitely be put away for good then.’ 

Joanna Simpson (pictured) was brutally killed by her estranged husband in 2010, with her two children nearby

Joanna Simpson was the victim of domestic abuse through coercive control, isolation and intimidation, which culminated in severe violence and the start of acrimonious divorce proceedings. 

On Halloween 2010, Jo was battered to death by her husband BA Captain Robert Brown in the vicinity of her children aged just 10 and nine at the time – one week before the finalisation of their divorce. 

Joanna’s body was found five days later buried in a pre-dug grave in Windsor Great Park. Despite evidence of considerable planning Robert Brown was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, he was given a 26-year sentence in May 2011.

However, he is now due to be released in November 2023 after only serving half of his sentence and Joanna’s family are terrified for themselves and the wider public.

Robert Brown (pictured) was jailed for manslaughter in 2010 and sentenced to 26 years in prison. But will be released after only serving half of that 

Speaking on Lorraine, Joanna’s mother Diana Parkes (pictured left) told how she was terrified that her daughter’s killer would be released next November 

Diana told Lorraine: ‘He committed a horrendous crime, hitting my daughter over the head with a claw hammer 14 times, causing 37 injuries to her head, whilst her children could hear it happening.’

Diana and her husband took their grandchildren and gave them a safe loving home. 

She told Lorraine how awfully stressful the past 13 years have been for her grandchildren, who are now aged 22 and 21 and both completing university degrees. 

Diana said: ‘I’m so proud of them. They have grown to be two of the most lovely people and I just love them to bits.’ 

Diana is pictured here with her daughter Joanna, who was hit over the head 14 times with a claw hammer by Brown

Diana gave them both stability and has spoken to the children about their father. 

She relayed how the family ‘breathed a sigh of relief’ when he was sentenced to 26 years, but now they are concerned that it has been reduced to 13, and because he has a determinate sentence, ‘he will come out, come what may, next November.’  

Lorraine asked Diana if she will be told where or when he is released by the authorities and if the family will receive any guarantees about their safety and if they will get any support. 

Diana responded: ‘The strange thing is Lorraine that victims are left in the dark all the time. 

‘Everything is for the perpetrator. He is guarded. We get told nothing.’ 

Joanna’s children were aged 10 and nine when she was killed. They are now aged 22 and 21 and are both finishing degrees at university 

Diana was joined by her daughter’s friend and founder of domestic abuse charity Refuge, Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, who explained how Brown’ determinate sentence works. 

Hetti explained: ‘He used his medical condition, which is called adjustment disorder, to claim diminished responsibility. That’s how he got away with murder.

‘He effectively argued that because of his mental state at the time that had a substantial effect on him committing the crime that he did. 

‘And yet when he’s released, he’s released regardless of his mental state.’

Expressing shock, Lorraine asked Hetti about how the victims she works with through Refuge cope with not knowing what happens to the perpetrators. 

Hetti says: ‘This ripples across, not just homicide, but at Refuge we speak to so many survivors who don’t get told when perpetrators are coming out of prison, don’t get told when they get bail, and often they get released from prison without any kind of non-molestation orders, or anything to protect survivors.’ 

Founder of domestic abuse charity, Refuge and friend of Joanna, Hetti Barkworth-Nanton (pictured) joined Diana and Lorraine. She detailed how victims are not supported or protected by authorities 

Hetti (right) spoke to Joanna (left) in the weeks leading up to her death. She tells Lorraine that she did not expect it and was shocked to hear how Brown had planned the whole thing

Hetti was good friends with Joanna, who had spoken to her a lot leading up to her death. 

She said: ‘None of us expected it to happen. It was a week before her final high court hearing and I was speaking to her, just as Di was just in the hour before she was killed.

‘And it was very tough. I think the worst thing was hearing that he’d spent three to four months digging a grave before he did it.

‘So it was very cold and calculated, and she didn’t stand a chance.’

Diana added that this grave was near a den that he had built for the children and so when they were playing he was digging. 

Lorraine asked Diana if it was because of the children that she was able to carry on after her daughter’s death. 

Diana explained how her grandchildren have kept her going and that she is concerned for them as Brown’s release date approaches 

Diana (right) founded a charity for domestic abuse victims in her daughter’s name, which gained support from the Duchess of Cornwall (middle)

She said: ‘I don’t know how I would have coped without the children. I had a purpose in life to look after them.’

She explains that whilst they were growing up she let them believe that Brown would be in jail for 26 years, as she didn’t want them to worry. 

Her granddaughter said: ‘Oh good he’ll be old when he comes out granny, we will be safe.’

After understanding the reality of their father’s sentence,  both of her grandchildren told Diana to tell Joanna’s story. 

After her daughter’s death Diana founded a charity in her name for victims of domestic abuse and her campaigning was event noticed by the Duchess of Cornwall, who also helped to raise awareness.  

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