Mum jailed for hiring ‘sham’ hitman to kill ex-colleague she had fling with

A mum has been jailed for attempting to hire a hitman to kill a former colleague, who she had a brief fling with.

Helen Hewlett was sentenced to seven and a half years behind bars after going to ‘Online Killers Market’ on the dark web and paid Bitcoin worth £20,000.

The 44-year-old wanted to have Paul Belton, 50, murdered in a way that would look accidental.

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She denied soliciting murder and stalking between January 1, 2020, and August 13, 2022 but was found guilty on both counts, as reported by the Mirror.

The court heard that the ‘Online Killer Market’ was an “absolute sham” created to steal money – adding that the money ended up in a Romanian account.

While the website was fake, prosecutors argued that Hewlett had intent to kill the dad of three.

Hewlett of King's Lynn, Norfolk, who was given a concurrent three-month sentence for stalking, was earlier cleared of a more serious offence of stalking causing alarm or distress.

Jurors were told how she and Mr Belton had flirted with each other when they were both working at a food factory in Fakenham, Norfolk.

The pair had had a single sexual encounter in her car in the factory's overflow car park, which Mr Belton was said to have immediately regretted.

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Judge Katharine Moore told Hewlett on Friday (May 5): "You were angry and upset when Paul Belton did not wish to pursue a relationship with you.

"Your response to that rejection was to embark on a course of action which began with attempts to engage him in communication, progressed into stalking and culminated in solicitation to murder."

The trial heard how Hewlett became "utterly fixated" with Mr Belton and repeatedly sent him emails begging to see him again, as well as nude photographs of herself, but he constantly made it clear he did not want anything to do with her.

The trial heard how in January last year Hewlett set up the cryptocurrency account and transferred £22,601 into it from her own accounts across 35 transactions, using savings, an overdraft and two loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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She then used a browser to search the dark web before she found the sham site.

Hewlett posted a message under the username "Horses5" in a forum, saying: "Need someone killed in Norfolk – vital it looks like an accident" before exchanging messages with a member of the site called "Marksman".

She transferred Bitcoin worth £20,547 into an account together with Mr Belton's name, home and work address, and picture.

Hewlett was later arrested on August 12 after police traced her Bitcoin payments and officers found she had repeatedly checked up on fatalities in Norfolk, to see if her hit job was acted upon.

She claimed she believed that Mr Belton would not be harmed until she gave her consent for a hit to go ahead.

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Detective Chief Inspector Michael Pereira, of the Specialist Digital & Serious Organised Crime unit for Norfolk and Suffolk police, said after the hearing: "This investigation has been complex and intensive and has involved a number of teams working together which has been critical to secure this conviction.

"We built and gathered evidence for the case identifying a woman using cryptocurrency to arrange for someone to kill the intended victim.

"Cyber-crime investigators looked at her cryptocurrency activity and worked with private industry and regional colleagues to provide evidence of payment transactions between the woman and the 'hit man' on the dark web. This provided crucial evidence in the investigation leading to the successful conviction today.

"This case really demonstrates a true team effort between serious crime disruption team, cybercrime investigators and regional colleagues to safeguard individuals from harm and tackle these types of crime which can have a huge impact on the victims and their family."

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