BBC News

Monday, 23 September, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK

Woman admits trying to hire hitman

Court graphic

BBC News

The former wife of an internet tycoon has admitted trying to hire a hitman to kill him after the breakdown of their 21-year marriage.

Shelley Molyneux, of Gidea Park in Essex, pleaded guilty to soliciting an undercover reporter posing as a hitman to murder her husband Jon.

Her marriage to Mr Molyneux, former chief executive of online business directory Scoot, had broken down late last year.

Molyneux, 41, was refused bail and remanded in custody by Judge Paul Focke, until sentencing on 18 October.

Her defence counsel Rebecca Poulet QC told the Old Bailey Molyneux had been "entrapped".

'Vulnerable state'

The court heard that reporter John Insall visited Molyneux on 12 Feburary after she had told a private investigator she wished her husband dead.

Mr Insall's story later appeared in the Sunday People.

Ms Poulet told the court it was a "classic case of agent provocateur".

"She would never have entered into it, had she not been in a desperate and vulnerable state and having had it proposed to her by someone who was paid 8,000 for the story he provided."

Ms Poulet said the couple, who have four children, had been estranged at the time but had now divorced.

'Little risk'

"The terrible situation that arose on 12 February this year and the mental state she was in at the time have all gone away."

Ms Poulet said police had assessed the situation and decided "there was no great risk".

"She did not have the capability to carry out the threat.

"She did not know the address he was living at the time."

The prosecution will outline its case when Molyneux is sentenced.