Pensioner “offered mechanic £250k to kill partner”
The pensioner partner of a former television scriptwriter asked a potential hitman if he could kill her while she was in hospital for a cancer operation, a court heard.
David Harris, 68, asked mechanic and trainee private investigator Chris May to murder Hazel Allinson in exchange for £250,000, providing him with pictures and a timetable of her movements, the Old Bailey was told.
In a secret recording made by Mr May on his mobile phone during a clandestine meeting and played in court on Wednesday, Harris said: "I need to get this done, the sooner the better."
Harris is accused of offering to pay Mr May and two other men, including an undercover detective, to murder his former The Bill scriptwriter partner so he could get his hands on assets including the £800,000 home they shared in the upmarket village of Amberley in West Sussex.
The trial previously heard that Harris, who had been with Ms Allinson for three decades, was "in love" with a younger woman, Ugne Cekaviciute, who he had met in a brothel.
The court heard claims that he showered his mistress with gifts and was forced to borrow thousands of pounds from neighbours and reach the limit on his credit cards to fund his double life.
The secret recording, made by Mr May on February 21 2016, was played to the jury as Ms Allinson watched from the public gallery.
Speaking as the pair sat in a car in Kingston, south-west London, the defendant said: "She has these blood tests on the 26th (of February) and that's the day she is in St Richard's Hospital.
"I don't know whether that still seems to be the best option for you?
"She is going in. Her mother and her sister died last year of ovarian cancer so she is going in to have her ovaries out."
He raised the issue of "security on the wards" and then mentioned her having "five or six weeks convalescing", adding: "I don't know if anything can be done then."
Mr May said Harris, who the court has heard relied financially on his partner, also suggested targeting her at her gym because it had a "a big car park, and it's dark", adding: "If there was an opportunity, he wanted her dead."
Mr May told the jury a workmate put him in touch with Harris to help with what he said was "debt collection" and felt "numb" at their first meeting on February 16 when he realised what Harris intended to do.
The defendant claims he was not planning to kill Ms Allinson but was simply researching a thriller novel he planned to write.
Mr May told the court that Harris also asked him to kill local parish councillor Ms Allinson as she walked alone to or from church in Amberley on the morning of Sunday February 28 2016.
Mr May said he lied to Harris and said he would travel to Amberley and do it.
Shortly after 1pm he received a text from Harris, the court heard, in which the defendant said: "She's back. What the f*** happened? She is going dog-walking this afternoon, where are you?"
William Boyce QC, prosecuting, asked: "He was expecting his wife to be murdered by you shortly after 10.38 on the 28th of February as she walked home from church?"
Mr May replied: "Yes."
He said he did later travel to West Sussex, but to warn Ms Allinson and play the recording of her partner, the court heard.
After he missed her outside her gym he sent her a series of emails from a fake address, warning her anonymously that he had information about her "husband".
But he told the jury she blocked his email address and told Harris about them.
The last he heard from Harris, he told the court, was that the couple had "sorted things out".
Tim Moloney QC, defending Harris, asked Mr May if he had ever suggested to anyone that he might make money out of Ms Allinson by telling her about the alleged plot against her.
He said he did not.
Harris denies three charges of soliciting to murder Ms Allinson.
The trial continues.