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Jailed for bid to kill love rival

PUBLISHED: 07:13 16 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:11 03 March 2010

A JEALOUS housewife is starting a seven-year jail sentence today for trying to hire a hitman to kill her love rival.

Paula Robinson, from Kirby-le-Soken, near Clacton, offered an undercover policeman £10,000 to kill ex-partner Frank Saunders' new lover.

A JEALOUS housewife is starting a seven-year jail sentence today for trying to hire a hitman to kill her love rival.

Paula Robinson, from Kirby-le-Soken, near Clacton, offered an undercover policeman £10,000 to kill ex-partner Frank Saunders' new lover.

She told him to stage a bungled burglary and promised him £5,000 up front and a further £5,000 when Judy Sheldrake, who lives near Leiston, was dead.

Robinson, 57, was found guilty last month of soliciting a contract killer to murder Ms Sheldrake after a 10-day trial at Norwich Crown Court and she was jailed yesterday for seven years by Judge Colin Colston QC.

Sentencing her at St Albans Crown Court, he told Robinson: "When he left you, you became consumed by jealousy. I am in no doubt that by early 2000 you were keen to see Judy Sheldrake eliminated. You made it clear that you did not want to back out.

"It was not a fantasy, what you were planning to do was have another woman murdered – it is a manifestly serious crime."

Speaking last night, Mr Saunders said his former partner had to bear the consequences of her actions, but added he was also surprised at the length of the jail sentence handed to her.

"In view of the sentencing that has been in recent cases, I thought it might have been less. I was expecting less. It reflects the severity of the offence, it really does. I'm only just coming to terms with it myself," said the 54-year-old.

"At the end of the day, I think it's sad. She's a very intelligent person and I do think it's sad that somebody of her intelligence chose to go down that road. However, she did so, therefore she bears the consequences."

Mr Saunders said Ms Sheldrake, 50, was "relieved that it is all over" and added: "Obviously it has been a tremendous pressure. It does take its toll."

Robinson, of Walton Road, was arrested two years ago after asking a man she knew as "Jimmy" to kill Ms Sheldrake – but the court heard "Jimmy" turned out to be an undercover policeman who had been tipped off about her plan.

She hatched the plot after Mr Saunders left her after 20 years to set up home in Leiston with Ms Sheldrake.

During the trial, at which she pleaded not guilty, the court was told Robinson had supplied the undercover policeman with photographs of her intended victim, a map showing where she lived and details of her movements.

But the undercover policeman taped all the conversations at their meetings. Robinson then suddenly called the killing off.

Edward Rees QC, mitigating, said: "She started to delay and finally called off the killing – she never went past the point of no return.

"During this period this woman was profoundly vulnerable. She had lost through infidelity a 20-year-relationship – she was unusually dependant.

"There was frequent contact after the split. If she had been allowed a clean break, things may have settled down. She drifted into a depressive illness."

Robinson had denied the charge, claiming the plan was a fantasy and she had never intended the killing to ever take place.

She was jailed for seven years and told she would serve two-thirds of the sentence. Under a deprivation order, she will also lose the £5,000.

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