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Jilted lover hired hitman - court hears

PUBLISHED: 07:12 27 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 March 2010

A JILTED lover whose longstanding partner left her for another woman was "determined to see her rival in love dead," a court has heard.

Paula Robinson, of Walton Road, Kirby-le-Soken, set up a contract killing but what she did not know was that the hired killer was an undercover policeman, Norwich Crown Court was told yesterday.

A JILTED lover whose longstanding partner left her for another woman was "determined to see her rival in love dead," a court has heard.

Paula Robinson, of Walton Road, Kirby-le-Soken, set up a contract killing but what she did not know was that the hired killer was an undercover policeman, Norwich Crown Court was told yesterday.

Conversations between the 57-year-old and the officer had also been tape-recorded and 48 hours before the killing was due to take place she called it off and tried to reclaim the £5,000 she had paid up front as part-payment, it was claimed.

Robinson, who has been on conditional bail since her arrest in May last year, denies a charge of soliciting "Jimmy" to murder Judy Sheldrake, of Minsmere Estate, Leiston, in April 2000.

During the trial, instead of being in the dock, she is being allowed to sit beside her solicitor as she is hard of hearing.

Andrew Murray QC, prosecuting, told the court that both Robinson and her partner Frank Saunders had left their original partners to set up home together 25 years ago.

In 1996 they moved to Kirby-le-Soken where Mr Saunders met Ms Sheldrake, who was a barmaid in their local pub, and started a relationship with her. He finally left Robinson in November 1999 and moved in with his new lover, said Mr Murray.

Through her lodger, who had "contacts", Robinson was put in touch with "Jimmy" and later "Eddy" the hired killer. Both of them are undercover policemen who will protect their anonymity by giving their evidence under these names from behind screens set up in court.

Mr Murray, who told the jury Robinson was "determined to see her rival in love dead," outlined some of the discussions between the defendant and the policemen.

He told the court that in one conversation Robinson said: "The chances are that Frank will not come back to me but at least he'll be on his own. He may not want me, fine, but she's not having what I've worked 30 years for.

"I've got some large cousins but what's the point? It's got to be a professional…not some hothead."

Mr Murray said Robinson had thought the best plan to kill Ms Sheldrake was a "bungled" burglary when Mr Saunders was not home, as there was only one other house nearby and her former partner had a collection of fire-arms, which were all certificated and kept secure in gun cabinets.

In meetings with the "contacts" Robinson gave them a photo of the intended victim, details of her work and social routine and comings and goings, a map showing where she lived and even a copy of Ms Sheldrake's signature, the court heard.

The jury was told Robinson paid £5,000 cash up front and was to pay a further £5,000 when the job was completed. She was to tell the killer when she wanted it done by leaving a phone message saying: "The dry-cleaning is ready to be collected."

But after a couple of postponements, Mr Murray said the accused left a message saying: "Don't collect dry-cleaning on Wednesday. Leave it for another two weeks."

He added that she then met the killer and said the "whole plan was out of the window" as her lodger had been "blabbing" while drunk and it was no longer safe.

Robinson was arrested on May 10 last year and in a police interview about her meetings she said: "I don't know what possessed me. I was drinking brandy, taking Valium [for depression] and I thought, 'Well, go along with it'."

The trial continues.

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