National Post

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Woman gets 30 months for trying to have ex-husband killed
Child custody battle

Paul McKie
The Canadian Press

A mother who tried to hire a contract killer to get rid of her estranged husband because of a child custody order she didn't like has received a 212-year prison sentence.

Danielle Shah, 24, appeared flushed when Justice Daniel Kennedy of Court of Queen's Bench passed sentence yesterday before a packed courtroom.

Shah pleaded guilty to counselling to commit murder earlier this week.

Shah's ex-husband, Rudy, said outside court he was glad the court didn't treat his ex-wife too leniently. But he wasn't happy she was going to jail either.

"I'm not exactly pleased," he said.

He said his son, who is now four, doesn't know much about the situation.

"If he ever asks, I'll tell him what happened," he said.

The Shahs' divorce was finalized earlier this month. Rudy has sole custody of his son.

Shah was in a custody battle with her husband over their son, then 2, when she approached an old friend about killing her ex.

The friend went to the police, who set up an operation with an undercover police officer posing as a contract killer from Montreal.

In a taped interview with the "hit man" that was played in court on Monday, Shah tells the undercover police officer she wants to get rid of her ex and doesn't care if his brother and mother are taken out too.

Mr. Kennedy said yesterday it was a difficult case to deal with because Shah was a mother who had strong family and community support. He noted that 31 character references had been tabled. Shah has no prior criminal record other than a fine for impaired driving.

But Mr. Kennedy said Shah did plead guilty and it's not up to him to speculate whether or not the murder would have been carried out. The judge said the crime itself is counselling someone else to do the crime.

"The counselling was for real," Mr. Kennedy said.

He noted Shah seemed sincere in her efforts to find someone to kill her husband. Mr. Kennedy said he recognized the distress she was under, but there were no psychological assessments before him to suggest Shah was the victim of abuse in her marriage.

Mr. Kennedy said he gave Shah 30 months in jail to deter others in the community from trying such tactics.

Outside court, Shah's family and friends cried and shook their heads in disbelief. Her family declined to talk to the media.

Copyright Southam Inc.