Monday, 3 Oct 2022

Woman ‘tried to hire hitman to kill Sports Direct pal’ after boss love triangle

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A woman has allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to murder a work colleague after she found they were both having an affair with their store manager.

Whitney Franks, 26, is said to have been "rampantly jealous" and plotted a hitman hiring after discovering their manager at a Sports Direct store was having an affair with both of them.

The 26-year-old and her colleague, Ruut Ruutna had been seeing manager James Prest, a father of two with a long-term partner, and now Franks has been accused of attempting to hire an online assassin.

Her would-be assassin would have banked themselves £1,000 according to an advert allegedly posted by Franks, Reading Crown Court has heard.

Reading the advert to the court, Prosecutor Andrew Copeland said: "I’m looking for the murder of a woman. I have £1,000 and I am willing to pay more.

"This woman has caused a lot of problems for myself and others. Please can you help sort this out."

Alongside the advertisement was a Facebook profile, address and description of her work colleague, Ruut Ruutna.

A workplace romance between Prest and Franks is alleged to have started in 2016 and continued when Ruutna joined the team a year later in 2017.

Prosecutor Copeland added: "They were not only work colleagues but love rivals of James Prest and both were romantically involved with him at the same time.

"By 2020 James Prest would, while his partner and children were in bed, frequently leave his house and go to Ruut Ruutna's house."

The chilling online advertisement from Franks was found not by a budding hitman but an investigative journalist from the BBC.

Police investigating the advertisement found that they were only able to identify that Ruutna was in danger, with the potential hitman target revealing she had a "hunch" as to who was behind the listing.

Franks, who denied the charge of soliciting to murder, says she had been browsing the dark web but had no intention of ordering a hit on anyone.

The trial continues.

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