A pensioner tried to hire hitmen to kill his wealthy TV scriptwriter partner so he could inherit her estate and run off with his younger lover, a court has heard.
David Harris, 68, is accused of offering three men up to £250,000 to murder Hazel Allinson so he could get his hands on assets including the £800,000 home they shared in the upmarket village of Amberley,West Sussex.
He provided details about her movements, including when and where she went to church, to assist the would be assassins with the hit, his trial at the Old Bailey in London heard.
But the first hitman tried to warn Ms Allinson, who was recovering from cancer, while the second alerted police, who brought in an undercover officer to pose as another killer for hire.
The court heard how Harris, who had worked in TV production, had run up large debts showering gifts, including jewellery, on new girlfriend, Ugne Cekaviciute, whom he said he had first met in a brothel.
Prosecutor William Boyce QC told the court that after his arrest in November 2016, Harris denied hiring the men to kill his partner, claiming he was in fact researching a novel.
Mr Boyce told the jury: "For more than 30 years he lived with his partner, Hazel Allinson, in London and then in Sussex.
"He found a new girlfriend, a much younger woman. Hazel Allinson had the money, he didn't.
"He wanted both the younger woman and the older woman's money. If he left her he thought he wouldn't get the money, and therefore he tried to arrange to have her murdered so he could have her money and the younger woman once she was dead."
The court heard that Mr Harris had worked on shows including The Bill with Ms Allinson, who was a local parish councillor. But behind her back he had been meeting Miss Cekaviciute for trysts in London hotels and had also been spending large amounts of money on gifts for her.
He had resorted to borrowing thousands of pounds from neighbours and maxing out his credit cards to fund his double life, Mr Boyce told jurors.
He said: "He spent money on her, increasing amounts of money it would seem; gifts, flowers, movies, dinners, books for her studies, underwear and of course hotels. He would also give her cash.
"On his own account it seems he fell in love with her."
The court heard how Harris used a "burner" mobile phone to contact the men he wanted to hire. He is accused of approaching London mechanic Christopher May in March 2016 and saying "I'm offering you £250,000 to kill my wife."
He is then said to have given May details about Ms Allinson's routine and asked how quickly it could be done, including saying: "Could you do it tomorrow?"
In one text message Harris is said to have told May: "My wife is due to go into hospital to have her ovaries removed so that might be the best option."
The court heard May was worried when he realised Harris was serious, and travelled to Ms Allinson's gym near Chichester to warn her in person, but missed her.
The second man, Duke Dean, was approached in October 2016 and offered up to £175,000, the court heard.
But he immediately alerted police, who set up a meeting between him, Mr Harris and an undercover officer in a bugged car in Balham, south-west London.
During the meeting, the court heard, Mr Harris suggested they kill his partner and make it look like a mugging or a carjacking.
He is accused of telling them: "I want the next five years with a girlfriend, living by the sea, OK? That's what I want."
All the men were offered small sums of money upfront, with the balance paid after he inherited Ms Allinson's money.
Bespectacled Mr Harris, who listened to proceedings in court though a hearing loop in the dock, denies three charges of soliciting to murder Ms Allinson in 2016.
The trial, which is due to last three weeks, continues.