A woman who tried to hire a hitman to murder a colleague she had an affair with has been jailed for seven and a half years.
Helen Hewlett, 44, admitted paying more than £20,000 in bitcoin into an account on the Dark Web called Online Killers Market after a breakdown in their relationship, the court heard.
The married mum-of-five had denied soliciting murder or stalking the victim between January 2021 and August 2022, but a jury found her unanimously guilty of the crimes in February.
Hewlett, of Hawthorns in King’s Lynn, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday, with the judge describing her as a "dangerous offender" and posing a "significant risk to the public".
During the trial, the court heard Hewlett admitted to police during an interview that she went on the dark web to seek “revenge” but denied she intended to kill her ex-colleague.
The court heard how she had placed bitcoin worth £20,547 into a so-called escrow intermediate account linked to the website before posting the order.
The deposits reflected the payment requested by 'horses5' quoted on the Online Killers Market.
The funds were then tracked through various unidentified accounts to have ended up connected to an individual in Romania.
Evidence gathered by investigators found the deposits from a UK bank account were in the name of Hewlett and she had agreed they belonged to her in a police interview, and they corresponded with payments made into her cryptocurrency account.
In the police interview, Hewlett insisted she had not intended for the killing to go ahead.
She stated that she still controlled the funds in the escrow account and believed no one else had access, adding: "You have to give your OK for someone to be done."
Hewlett was arrested at her home on 12 August 2022 and her mobile phone was recovered from a bedside cabinet.
The app used to access the Dark Web was downloaded on the phone and Hewlett also had three hitman sites bookmarked, police said.
The day after her arrest, police went to the victim’s home and he described a long campaign of harassment by her where he had to block various email addresses so she could not contact him.
The victim said in his statements, read out in court by officers at the trial, that he had been left feeling “scared, afraid of everyone” and very wary of strangers.
Hewlett has been sentenced to a total of 12.5 years for soliciting murder and three months for stalking, to be served concurrently.
This will consist of seven and a half years to be served in prison and five years on extended license period to determine the risk to the public by a parole panel.
She must serve a minimum of two thirds of the custodial sentence.
Hewlett was also issued with a permanent restraining order to prevent any contact with the victim or his family.