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Woman guilty of hiring a hitman

PUBLISHED: 06:15 08 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:59 03 March 2010

A WOMAN has been found guilty of soliciting a contract killer to kill the woman who had taken her long-time partner from her.

A jury of seven women and five men sitting at Norwich Crown Court took just two-and-a-half hours yesterday to unanimously find Paula Robinson guilty of soliciting a man to murder Judy Sheldrake.

A WOMAN has been found guilty of soliciting a contract killer to kill the woman who had taken her long-time partner from her.

A jury of seven women and five men sitting at Norwich Crown Court took just two-and-a-half hours yesterday to unanimously find Paula Robinson guilty of soliciting a man to murder Judy Sheldrake.

Robinson, 57, of Walton Road, Kirby-le-Soken, Essex, will be sentenced by Judge Colin Colston at St Albans Crown Court next month.

The court had heard Robinson and Frank Saunders had left their partners to set up home together 25 years ago. They moved to Kirby-le-Soken in 1996, where Mr Saunders met Ms Sheldrake, who was working as a barmaid at a local pub.

Mr Saunders and Ms Sheldrake began a relationship and in November 1999 he left Robinson to move in with his new lover.

Andrew Murray QC, prosecuting, said that in April this year Robinson contacted a man whom she thought was a contract killer.

She supplied him with a photograph of Ms Sheldrake, who was living in the Leiston area of Suffolk, along with a map showing the exact location of her home and details of her movements.

But Mr Murray said Robinson had not known the contract killer with whom she had been dealing had been a police officer working undercover.

The so-called hit-man recorded all his conversations with Robinson on tape and they were produced as evidence during the trial.

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

Robinson paid the undercover officer £5,000 and agreed to pay a further £5,000 when the job was completed - and even suggested a bungled burglary as a plan for the killing. However, she called it off with one day to go before the supposed killing.

Robinson, who was arrested in May, denied intending the killing to take place and claimed it had all been a fantasy.

In an interview with police officers 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'."

Psychiatric and psychological experts who were called in her defence said Robinson had a dramatic personality and was prone to fantasise, but was


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