Ex-TV producer jailed for 17 years for hitmen plot to kill partner
'Obviously it will look like an accident'
A retired producer of TV drama The Bill has been jailed for 17 years for trying to hire three men to kill his wealthy partner so he could be with a Lithuanian lover 40 years his junior.
David Harris offered €228,000 to murder Hazel Allinson so he could inherit her fortune, sell her £800,000 home and live out his days with Ugne Cekaviciute, who he met in a brothel.
The 68-year-old admitted he got into a tangle of lies and mounting debt as he lavished expensive gifts on the 28-year-old former professional basketball player during their five-year affair.
He denied wanting retired The Bill scriptwriter Ms Allinson dead and claimed he only wanted to talk to hitmen as research for a murder mystery novel, before he was snared in an undercover sting.
But the Old Bailey heard of his determined attempts to have his partner of 27 years killed in a "mugging gone wrong", and he was found guilty of three charges of soliciting murder.
Sentencing, Judge Anne Molyneux QC said Harris's obsession meant he had condemned a woman who "protected and nurtured" him to a death in "terror and pain".
She said he had been "deadly serious" about getting rid of her after she "outlived her usefulness".
The judge 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."
Earlier, the court heard 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".
Reading from reports, prosecutor Philip McGhee noted the twice divorced father-of-one had a "complex and dysfunctional relationship with women", including his partner and girlfriend.
The defendant maintained his innocence and Ms Allinson's attitude towards his crimes was said to be a sign of her "vulnerability" or Harris's ability to manipulate her.
Anthony Rimmer, mitigating, said Harris had been a "silly old fool" although his infatuation did not excuse the offences.
As a 68-year-old man, he faces a "very different regime" on his release.
Mr Rimmer said Ms Cekaviciute is now "out of the picture" and his relationship with Ms Allinson, who was not in court, remains an "open question".
Rather than being "vulnerable" she was a "person of robust characteristics and can stand up for herself", Mr Rimmer argued.