Ex-TV producer who hired hitmen to kill partner found guilty

media captionCCTV images show David Harris meeting with a "hitman".

A former producer on TV show The Bill has been found guilty of trying to hire a hitman to kill his partner.

David Harris, 68, who had become "besotted" with another woman, offered to pay an undercover policeman £150,000 to murder Hazel Allinson.

Jurors at the Old Bailey heard Harris wanted to inherit her fortune and £800,000 home so he could elope with sex worker Ugne Cekaviciute, 28.

He said he was researching a spy novel and denied solicitation to murder.

'Utterly sinister'

The retired producer was caught when the police officer posing as a would-be hitman taped a conversation in which Harris said he was "100% sure" he wanted his partner dead. Extracts of the recordings have been released by the City of London police.

Former TV scriptwriter Ms Allinson, who was present as details of her partner's betrayal were aired in court, refused to co-operate with the prosecution and also offered to give evidence in Harris' defence.

image copyrightCentral News
image captionDavid Harris lied to Hazel Allinson about visiting his sick brother, when he was seeing his mistress

But prosecutor William Boyce QC described Harris' story as "absurd" and said: "You were utterly sinister, utterly convincing and utterly intent on the death of Hazel."

Harris told the court he had an "active libido" and it was on a regular visit to a brothel in Worthing he met Ms Cekaviciute.

"I had become besotted with her. I thought that she was too young and too nice to be in a brothel," he said.

Harris took the younger woman to expensive restaurants and hotels, spending £50,000, which Ms Allinson, who also worked on The Bill, had given him as an allowance after his retirement.

image copyrightCentral News
image captionHarris said he thought Ugne Cekaviciute was "too young and too nice" to be working in a brothel

The pair were together 27 years and Harris used Ms Allinson's reputation as a parish councillor and church chorister to borrow thousands of pounds from neighbours to fund his five-year affair.

The court heard he sneaked Ms Cekaviciute into the house they shared in Amberley, West Sussex and photographed her posing on a bed.

Harris often told Ms Allinson, a cancer survivor who lost both her mother and sister to the disease, that he was tending to his sick brother in a mental hospital, when he was actually away with Ms Cekaviciute.

image copyrightCity of London Police
image captionHarris approached three different men to ask them to kill his partner

The court was told Harris approached London mechanic Christopher May in March 2016 and said: "I'm offering you £250,000 to kill my wife."

Mr May instead tried to warn Ms Allinson, so Harris approached a second man, Duke Dean, in October 2016, and offered him up to £175,000.

Mr Dean alerted police who brought in an undercover detective to pose as "Chris", an apparent killer for hire, whom Harris offered £150,000 to kill Ms Allinson.

Speaking after Harris was found guilty, Det Ch Insp Adele Michael said: "This is a man who basically presented himself as a retired middle-class pensioner, who in fact was a very manipulative, conniving and ruthless individual who approached not one but three individual men and offered them money to have his partner killed."

image copyrightCentral News
image captionHarris used Ms Allinson's good reputation to borrow money from their neighbours

Sentencing has been adjourned to July 14 for a report on Harris's future risk.

Judge Anne Molyneux QC said: "There was a prolonged period of almost a year where he actively sought to murder his life partner.

"During that year, he displayed an ability to lie almost instinctively.

"He has demonstrated a lack of empathy and he has demonstrated a callousness and willingness to do what is necessary to achieve his own ends."

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