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‘Calculating’ ex-TV producer jailed for 17 years for hitmen plot to kill partner

David Harris claimed he only wanted to talk to hitmen as research for a murder mystery novel.

A “ruthless and calculating” retired producer on TV’s The Bill has been jailed for 17 years for trying to hire three hitmen to kill his wealthy partner after becoming infatuated with a Lithuanian lover 40 years his junior.

David Harris, 68, offered £200,000 to murder Hazel Allinson in a “mugging gone wrong” as he plotted to sell her £800,000 home and live out his days in luxury with Ugne Cekaviciute, whom he met in a brothel.

After he was caught in an undercover sting, Harris admitted he was a “silly old fool” to fall for the 28-year-old former professional basketball player but denied wanting Ms Allinson dead.

An Old Bailey jury found him guilty on three charges of soliciting murder, having rejected his claims to be researching a murder mystery novel entitled Too Close To Kill.

Passing sentence, Judge Anne Molyneux QC said: “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.”

The trial had heard that 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 lies to keep breast cancer survivor Ms Allinson in the dark while he travelled to London for trysts with 6ft 1in Ms Cekaviciute.

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.

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 then approached 6ft 3in “man mountain” Zed – real name Duke Dean – and promised him £200,000 for the job, but in November last year Zed reported him to the City of London Police.

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.

The court heard that 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”.

Anthony Rimmer, mitigating, said Ms Cekaviciute is now “out of the picture” and his relationship with Ms Allinson, who was not in court, remains an “open question”.

Harris, who wore a pink checked shirt, listened intently on earphones in the dock as he was sentenced.

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