Mum ordered £20k hitman to kill ex-colleague from site charging £16k for ‘arson’

A mum used a website on the dark-web that had a price list of a hitman which included prices for murder, arson or a "simple beating."

Helen Hewlett, 43, from Norfolk, is on trial this week at Norwich Crown Court accused of soliciting murder and stalking Paul Belton, 50 between January 2021 and August 2022.

It is allege she paid £22,601 in Bitcoin to a site called 'Online Killers Market' as a deposit to kill Mr Belton who rejected her advances.

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Hewlett, a married mother-of-five, denies all charges.

Police linked the dark web payments to her and logged onto her account before cancelling the hit.

Hewlett's lawyer argued that the website was an 'absolute sham' and 'palpable nonsense'.

Hewlett is thought to have become infatuated with Mr Belton while the pair worked at a Linda McCartney vegetarian food factory together in Fakenham, Norfolk.

At one stage the two had a romantic encounter in a car outside the factory, which Mr Belton is thought to have regretted.

The jury heard that Hewlett had then become 'obsessed' with Mr Belton, frequently sending him sexually explicit emails containing naked photos of hers.

Police say Hewlett set up a Coinbase account to buy cryptocurrency in January 2022 and that Hewlett applied for two loans totaling £12,000, which she used alongside savings to pay £20,000 in 35 transactions on an anonymous browser called 'Tor', which is used by people on the dark web.

Police found she had transferred Bitcoin worth £20,547 to the website to which she also provided Mr Belton's name, home and work address.

Det Sgt Mark Stratford, of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, told the court that the website claimed it could provide hitmen to shoot people or could even hit them with cars to make it appear their deaths were accidental and had a "100 per cent job completion rate."

Mr Stratford there was no evidence that the services offered on the site were real.

"We have researched some of the claims and we do not believe them to be genuine," he said.

The trial continues.

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