A producer of The Bill tried to hire three hitmen to kill his wealthy wife
A retired producer of TV drama The Bill has been jailed for 17 years for trying to hire three men to kill his wealthy partner so he could be with a Lithuanian lover 40 years his junior.
David Harris offered £200,000 to murder Hazel Allinson so he could inherit her fortune, sell her £800,000 home and live out his days with Ugne Cekaviciute, who he met in a brothel.
The 68-year-old admitted he got into a tangle of lies and mounting debt as he lavished expensive gifts on the 28-year-old former professional basketball player during their five-year affair.
He denied wanting retired The Bill scriptwriter Ms Allinson dead and claimed he only wanted to talk to hitmen as research for a murder mystery novel, before he was snared in an undercover sting.
But the Old Bailey heard of his determined attempts to have his partner of 27 years killed in a "mugging gone wrong", and he was found guilty of three charges of soliciting murder.
Sentencing, Judge Anne Molyneux QC said Harris's obsession meant he had condemned a woman who "protected and nurtured" him to a death in "terror and pain".
She said he had been "deadly serious" about getting rid of her after she "outlived her usefulness".
The judge told Harris: "For your pipe dream, for your obsessive infatuation with a young woman, Ms Allinson, who had protected and nurtured you, was to die a painful and terrifying death in an isolated spot.
"Her death was to fund your life. You had used her until she had outlasted her usefulness to you.
"All that you wanted from her was that she should die and you should inherit her money."
Earlier, the court heard Harris had all the hallmarks of "social anxiety and a narcissistic personality disorder", with traits of "manipulation, personal gain and lack of remorse or guilt".
Reading from reports, prosecutor Philip McGhee noted the twice divorced father-of-one had a "complex and dysfunctional relationship with women", including his partner and girlfriend.
The defendant maintained his innocence and Ms Allinson's attitude towards his crimes was said to be a sign of her "vulnerability" or Harris's ability to manipulate her.
Anthony Rimmer, mitigating, said Harris had been a "silly old fool" although his infatuation did not excuse the offences.
As a 68-year-old man, he faces a "very different regime" on his release.
Mr Rimmer said Ms Cekaviciute is now "out of the picture" and his relationship with Ms Allinson, who was not in court, remains an "open question".
Rather than being "vulnerable" she was a "person of robust characteristics and can stand up for herself", Mr Rimmer argued.
The trial heard Harris blew £50,000 of Ms Allinson's savings and used her reputation as a parish councillor and church chorister to borrow thousands of pounds from neighbours in the West Sussex village of Amberley.
He pawned a gold wristwatch and diamond ring and made up increasingly elaborate tales to keep breast cancer survivor Ms Allinson in the dark while he travelled to London for trysts with 6ft 1in Ms Cekaviciute.
Harris pretended to umpire matches for Arundel Castle Cricket Club to play away with his young lover and also told Ms Allinson he was tending to his sick brother in a mental hospital.
In a show of "complete contempt", Harris sneaked Ms Cekaviciute into her home and photographed her posing naked on a bed with Ms Allinson's three spaniels, jurors heard.
Prosecutor William Boyce QC said Harris decided the only way out of his predicament was to pay a hitman to kill Ms Allinson in a staged mugging or car-jacking.
In February last year, Harris approached mechanic Chris May for debt collection before offering him a deal for the hit on his partner.
Instead, Mr May repeatedly tried to warn Ms Allinson of the danger, approaching her as she left the gym at Goodwood Health Club and by email.
Harris was then put in contact with 6ft 3in "man mountain" Zed - real name Duke Dean - through a friend at Nooks cafe in Stratford, east London, near to where Ms Cekaviciute had enrolled in college.
Recovering alcoholic Harris promised him £200,000 for the job, but in November last year Zed reported him to City of London Police instead.
Zed introduced Harris to another prospective hitman, undercover officer "Chris", who secretly videoed the meeting in a Sainsbury's car park in Balham, south London.
The next day police burst into a room at the Balham Lodge Hotel to arrest Harris and found him lying naked in bed with Ms Cekaviciute.
Giving evidence, Harris claimed he was researching a thriller entitled Too Close To Kill, based on his alter ego Tom Noble, a wife called Holly - named after one of the family dogs - and a sporty young woman who worked in a brothel or cafe.
He said: "I thought what was happening to me at that time, at that particular juncture, might form the basis of a good thriller.
"It was based on a guy based on me, my sort of age, meets a young girl, falls in love, becomes besotted and over development decides he wants to be with her and decides what he has to do about his wife Holly."