Warning: the below article includes distressing content.


In 2010, Robert Brown killed his ex-wife Joanna Simpson just days before their divorce was due to be finalised.

An airline pilot, he became known as the British Airways killer.

In 2023, Brown's automatic release from jail was blocked by the Lord Chancellor after campaigning by Simpson's family and friends.

The horrifying case is now the subject of a new ITV documentary, The BA Killer.

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With access to unseen police interviews, the documentary follows the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit's investigation into Simpson's death, as well as speaking to Simpson's family and friends.

As the documentary details the accounts of those affected by Brown's crimes and recent developments in his case, read on for further information about who he is, his crimes and whether he has been released from prison.

Who is Robert Brown and what did he do to Joanna Simpson?

Robert Brown is a former airline pilot who hit his estranged wife over the head with a claw hammer and killed her.

In the summer of 2007, Robert Brown and Joanna Simpson's marriage had broken down and the pair began divorce proceedings.

Following a "bitter" legal battle, Brown arrived at his estranged wife's house with their two children.

As the children went into the family room, Brown took a hammer he had placed in the children's bag and hit Simpson a number of times.

He then put her body into his car and drove to Windsor Great Park, where he placed her body in a box lined with plastic sheets and buried her in a hole.

As well as burying Simpson, he buried the hammer and other items used during the attack.

After burying Simpson's body, Brown returned to the house and removed the CCTV camera that would have recorded the footage of him putting Simpson's body into the car and buried it in another area of the park.

A framed portrait photo of Joanna Simpson. She has her hand resting on her face and is smiling
Joanna Simpson. Moonshine Features/ITV

Where is Robert Brown now?

In 2011, a jury at Reading Crown Court acquitted Brown of murder but convicted him of obstructing a coroner from holding an inquest. He had previously admitted to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Judge Mr Justice Cook told Brown: "You intended to kill, you intended to conceal the body and to hide the evidence of the killing.

"You never called an ambulance or took her to hospital, and in my judgment you never had any intention to do so.

"Indeed, you took her body to a remote part of Windsor Great Park in the car and then carried her body and put it into a garden box in a hole that you had dug previously, having left a spade nearby wrapped in tarpaulin."

Brown was sentenced to 24 years for manslaughter and a further two years for the offence of obstructing a corner in the execution of his duty.

Has the British Airways killer been released?

Robert Brown in a police interview wearing a blue shirt with his arms folded. It is CCTV footage
Robert Brown. Moonshine Features/ITV

The former pilot was due to be released on licence in November 2023, after serving 13 years in prison.

However, a month prior, Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk used powers to ensure he remained in prison and noted that his "appalling case" was to be referred to the Parole Board.

"Joanna Simpson was bludgeoned and buried at the hands of Robert Brown, which left two children without a mother and caused irreparable harm to her family and loved ones," said Mr Chalk, who is also the justice secretary (as per Sky News).

"I made a commitment to Joanna's family that I would give this case my closest personal attention.

"Having reviewed all the information available to me, I have blocked Brown's automatic release and referred this case to the Parole Board using powers we introduced to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders."

So, no, Brown has not been released from prison. A decision on whether or not he will be released will be made by the Parole Board.
The BA Killer is available to watch on ITVX.
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