Sussex

The Bill TV producer jailed over hitmen plot to kill partner

David Harris Image copyright City of London Police
Image caption Harris approached three different men to ask them to kill his partner

A retired TV producer who was convicted of trying to hire a hitman to kill his partner has been jailed for 17 years.

David Harris, 68, offered £200,000 for the murder of Hazel Allinson so he could inherit her fortune, sell her £800,000 Sussex home and run off with a sex worker, an Old Bailey trial heard.

Jurors heard he approached two men over the deal but was reported to police.

Harris was later filmed trying to make a deal with a third prospective hitman - but who was an undercover officer.

'Obsessive infatuation'

During the trial, the former producer of the police drama series The Bill said he was researching a spy novel and denied soliciting murder, but jurors found him guilty on three counts.

The court heard he wanted his partner killed in a "mugging gone wrong".

Image copyright Central News
Image caption Harris wanted to run off with Ugne Cekaviciute who he met in a brothel

Judge Anne Molyneux QC 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."

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Media captionCCTV and audio of the 'hitman hire' was released by police

The court heard Harris became besotted with Lithuanian Ugne Cekaviciute, 28, whom he met in a brothel.

He had been with Ms Allinson - a retired scriptwriter who had survived breast cancer - for 27 years and the couple shared her home in the village of Amberley.

But during his five-year affair with Ms Cekaviciute, Harris became entangled in a web of lies and debt as he lavished gifts on her.

'Manipulative narcissist'

The court heard he spent £50,000 of Ms Allinson's savings and told elaborate lies that included pretending to umpire cricket matches away from home, and claims he was looking after his sick brother in a mental hospital.

He first approached mechanic Chris May to kill his partner, but he tried to warn Ms Allinson.

Harris was then put in contact with Duke Dean, but he reported him to City of London Police.

After Harris was videoed meeting an undercover officer, police arrested him at a hotel where they found him in bed with Ms Cekaviciute.

Image copyright Central News
Image caption David Harris lied to Hazel Allinson about visiting his sick brother, when he was seeing his mistress

Earlier, the court heard Harris had all the hallmarks of "social anxiety and a narcissistic personality disorder" with manipulative traits and a lack of remorse and guilt.

Prosecutor Philip Gee told the court the twice-divorced father-of-one had a "complex and dysfunctional relationship with women", including his partner and girlfriend.

But in mitigation, Anthony Rimmer said Harris had been a "silly old fool" although his infatuation did not excuse the offences.

He said Ms Cekaviciute was now "out of the picture" and his relationship with Ms Allinson remained an "open question".

'Ruthless and calculating'

Giving evidence, Harris had claimed he was writing a thriller and told the court: "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."

Image copyright Central News
Image caption Harris used Ms Allinson's good reputation to borrow money from their neighbours

After the hearing, Det Ch Insp Edelle Michaels, from City of London Police, said the offence involved "significant planning and persistence" by Harris.

Describing him as ruthless, she said he had shown to be "calculating" and "intent on causing serious harm".

"His persistence was evident in his approaching not one but three different supposed hitmen," she added.

"This has been a hugely difficult time for the victim, who has been significantly affected.

"The situation could have been far worse had Harris succeeded with his plan and there was an element of good fortune that one of the men Harris approached informed the police, prompting our swift response."

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