Jailed, the executive who asked hitman to kill her ex


Last updated at 00:12 02 March 2007

A spurned businesswoman has been jailed for eight years for plotting the contract-killing of her former lover and his new wife.

Millionairess Carol Ann Hunter was filled with "uncontrollable hatred" towards Colin and Judith Love.

Overcome by jealousy, the convent- educated 50-year- old persuaded her new lover, financial adviser Anton Lee, to find a hitman for her.

She initially asked for the couple to be killed in a road crash, then, when put in touch with a man who she thought was a contract killer, offered him £10,000 to blind or maim Mrs Love.

But the man turned out to be an undercover policeman and Hunter and Lee were arrested.

She wept in the dock at the Old Bailey yesterday as she was described as callous and manipulative by a judge, who said she had used "infatuated" Lee to try to achieve her evil aims.

Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told Hunter: "You did not accept the obvious. You are a woman who can present two entirely different faces. You are capable of manipulation and callousness of the highest order."

Hunter, who was born in Guyana to a diamond prospector father, was educated at convent schools in Africa, then studied fashion and design in Britain before embarking on a business career.

She began at Avon Cosmetics and swiftly climbed the corporate ladder.

By 2001 she was a successful managing director earning £150,000 a year as head of a Newcastle-based company behind Tommee Tippee baby products.

She and Mr Love, a business executive, were together for 22 years and had two children but never married. They bought a £750,000 home in Chiswick, West London, and £600,000 Lionsfield House, a 15th century property set in four acres outside Wilden, Bedfordshire.

Hunter collected antique bronzes and drove a silver BMW X5. But while her career flourished, Mr Love became disillusioned with his life.

He tried to boost his income by lecturing in business studies at Oxford and London but was spending more time at home while his partner jetted around the world.

In May 2003 the "curse of Friends Reunited" struck when he contacted old flame Judith Crowshaw, 51. She was married but they began an affair and three months later Mr Love asked Hunter to move out.

Within 14 months Mr Love had married Judith and moved her into Lionsfield House, leaving Hunter seething.

Despite finding new love with Oxford-educated Lee, 54, her fury boiled over when Mr Love changed his will to make his wife the sole beneficiary, cutting out his two children with Hunter. She sent a series of vitriolic emails to Mr Love calling her rival "Old Bitch Whore",

"carrion crow" and "parasitic family-destroying scum".

Lee told the court that Hunter came up with the idea of murder as they lay in bed after a sex session in Morocco. He asked a friend if he knew a contract killer but the friend tipped off Surrey police, who arranged a meeting with an undercover officer calling himself Darren.

Lee said Hunter wanted an "accident" such as a car crash to be arranged for Mr Love and his wife while she was away on holiday, to give her an alibi. After meeting Darren, Hunter handed over £5,000 - with £5,000 to follow - but said she needed Mrs Love only to be maimed, to make it impossible for her to live in a "rickety 15th century house".

When the "hitman" told Hunter that Mrs Love's dog might have to be killed, the jealous businesswoman said: "I feel worse about the dog than I do about her - but do what is necessary."

In a description intended for the hitman, she called Mrs Love "55, 14st, with greying looks like Judi Dench".

Hunter and Lee were arrested in October 2005 and, in December, she was found guilty of inciting him to hire a hitman to kill Mr and Mrs Love. Hunter had denied the charge but pleaded guilty to soliciting grievous bodily harm with intent against Mrs Love.

Lee, of Stanmore, North-West London, pleaded guilty to soliciting murder and gave evidence against Hunter. He was jailed for four years.

The judge told the pair: "It is a tragedy to see two people of ability, achievement and maturity facing sentence for such serious offences.

"Both in the past have been able to command the respect and admiration of those that know you. You have brought disgrace upon yourself and pain and anguish to those who love and depend upon you.

"The context of your crime is breathtaking both in its audacity and its coldness. The story seems to have touched just about every human emotion and reaction.

"You Hunter were the driving force with a clear motive. You Lee were a willing and active facilitator and supporter - you had taken leave of your senses, you were deeply infatuated.

Mr and Mrs Love were in court to see the pair jailed. Afterwards, Mr Love said: 'My reaction to the sentence is one of great sorrow.

"I take no satisfaction in the sentence. I feel completely flattened."

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