Mother of Five Paid Hitman $24,000 in Bitcoins to Kill Ex-Lover
She ordered murder on the dark web.
Despite the devastating recent press, every industry seems to be racing to embrace the cryptocurrency revolution. Including, it seems, freelance murder. A British mother of five was recently found guilty of paying a hitman $24,000 in Bitcoin to kill her ex-lover, the Daily Mail reported. Prosecutors alleged that Helen Hewlett, 44, was bitter after a recent breakup and sought revenge on the dark web. Specifically, a site called Online Killers Market, which she paid a stack of crypto to have the guy rubbed out. Read on to find out more about the story, including how Hewlett was discovered, what she said during the trial, and what Online Killers Market is.
Dark Web Order for Murder
Prosecutors said Hewlett used a browser called Tor to search the dark web and found the site Online Killers Market, which purported to provide hitmen. She placed Bitcoin worth $24,000 into an escrow account connected to the website.
Police linked that transaction to a post titled "Job in Norfolk UK," which said: "Need someone killed in Norfolk—vital it looks like an accident." Hewlett included the potential victim's name, Paul Belton; his home address; work address; and a photo of him.
Parking Lot Hookup Goes Wrong
During the trial, prosecutors said Hewlett and Belton had flirted with each other when they were co-workers at the Linda McCartney vegetarian food factory in Norfolk. The pair had a brief sexual encounter in her car in the factory's parking lot, which Belton—who was also married with children—regretted.
But prosecutors said Hewlett became "utterly fixated" on Belton, sending him multiple emails about meeting up again and nude photos. But he distanced himself from her. After that, Hewlett called him a "coward" for cutting off communication and posted comments on Facebook suggesting he 'needs shooting in the bollocks."
What She Said—And Searched
During the trial, Hewlett denied she intended to kill Belton. Jurors heard her statement to police: "I put a post on a forum. It was to vent more than anything and to say things that I was feeling. It was more stupid than serious. It was a way of making me feel better.' But prosecutors said that after placing the ad, Hewlett did online searches for news articles about fatal road accidents, a body found in a ditch, and a person found dead on a beach.
This week, a jury found Hewlett guilty of soliciting murder and stalking. "The defendant must ready herself to receive a custodial sentence," the judge said. Hewlett will be sentenced on Apr. 5. "We are very pleased that, after careful consideration, the jury have reached a guilty verdict on both counts," said police inspector Paul Morton. "This has been a very complex and technical trial with a huge amount of information to consider. This is a rare type of offense and it just shows the dark web is still not a safe place for criminals to hide."
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What Is Online Killers Market?
Prosecutors said the dark web site Online Killers Market called itself "the No. 1 hitmen marketplace" and claimed to have hundreds of hitmen in its ranks, including former gang members and veterans. Its menu included sniper shooting (between $20,000 and $60,000), arson (up to $20,000), or a simple beating ($2,000).
The site also claimed it could arrange deaths from undetectable poison or even snake bites and boasted of a 100% job completion rate. But, prosecutors said, the site was just a scam designed to steal from angry people, and the money Hewlett sent ended up in an account in Romania.