Nov 2002

Paedophile tried to hire hitman to kill girl

A jailed paedophile tried to hire a contract killer to murder the little girl he blamed for putting him behind bars, it can be revealed today.

Stuart Spring, 33, of Camden, north London, admitted attempting to have the nine-year-old girl killed when he appeared at the Old Bailey this morning.

He embarked on his plan from within Pentonville Prison in London, where he is serving four years for indecently assaulting the girl.

Spring said he would like to read about his victim’s body “being discovered in woodland somewhere”.

But the ‘hitman’ Spring thought he was hiring was really an undercover police officer who was secretly recording his horrific instructions.

He offered to pay a sum understood to be between £7,000 and £10,000, and even provided a clipping from a local newspaper showing a photograph of schoolchildren on a summer scheme, including the girl, whose head he had circled.

Spring, pale, chubby and in a tracksuit, said nothing during his brief appearance in court except to acknowledge his name.

He was remanded for psychiatric and pre-sentence reports until December 16.

Police were alerted to Spring’s intentions through his boasts to fellow inmates about the attack on the girl in 2000, when she was just eight. He disclosed intimate details of the sexual assault and how he wanted to see her dead, said police.

He began talking about it shortly after arriving at Pentonville following his conviction in 2001 at Snaresbrook Crown Court, where he pleading guilty to indecent assault.

The information reached the Metropolitan Police in Camden and they immediately put the girl and her family under police protection.

In Operation Medcalf, an undercover officer posing as a hitman “friend of a friend” then met Spring at Pentonville.

There was “clear intent” from their first meeting to arrange the killing, said Commander Dave Armond, of the Metropolitan Police’s Serious Crime Group.

He said: “Spring sought to persuade the undercover officer to murder the girl, stating that he would like to read about her body being discovered in woodland somewhere. During the meetings, Spring used graphically descriptive terms such as wanting the girl “terminated” and “erased”.

“He also wrote letters to the undercover officer. One such letter contained a newspaper cutting showing a picture of a group of schoolchildren. Among them was the intended target, with her head circled.”

Mr Armond said: “Stuart Spring has pleaded guilty to the abhorrent crime of soliciting the murder of a nine-year-old girl was had already been the victim of a horrific assault by him.”

Unemployed Spring has a string of previous convictions for burglary and robbery.

The parents of the girl were “obviously distressed” to learn of the plot, said Mr Armond.

They had not, as far as he knew, told their daughter about the attempt on her life.

The undercover officer, known only as Joe, met Spring three times after being introduced through a “mutual friend”, said police.

Spring was arrested on May 14, 2002, at Pentonville Prison and taken to a north London police station where he made no comment during interviews.

He was subsequently charged with soliciting to murder the girl between March 26 and April 26 this year.

Mr Armond said: “He blamed her for his predicament, being in prison. He obviously felt quite safe talking to the undercover officer about it. We think it was a genuine attempt to have her killed.”

Spring was planning to pay for the killing with money he kept with a relative, who knew nothing of its purpose, police said.

Mr Armond said the covert operation had involved various public protection agencies working closely with detectives from the Met’s Murder Suppression Team and a senior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Jackson.

“Information sharing was based upon utmost confidentiality, confidence in each other and mature joint working arrangements,” said Mr Armond.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is totally committed to partnership working and this case provides an excellent example of how such arrangements can ensure that the most dangerous of individuals are brought to justice.”