Jury finds son guilty of 'hitman' hire

BENN BATHGATE
Last updated 15:51 19/08/2014

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A man who tried to hire an undercover police officer posing as a hitman to kill his parents has been found guilty of the crime.

The jury at the murder-for-hire trial of Alan Barlow at the High Court in Rotorua returned this afternoon with a guilty verdict on a charge of attempting to procure the murder of his parents Diana Noeleen Barlow and Kevin James Barlow.

Earlier the Crown alleged a dispute over a house Barlow co-owned with his parents was the catalyst for his decision to contact a distant relative to say he wanted his parents killed.

The relative, Daniel Ryder, contacted police who then tasked an undercover officer to make contact with Barlow.

The jury was shown covert surveillance footage of Barlow meeting the man he believed was a hitman called 'John', and subsequent film of an interview between Barlow and Detective Logan Nicholas.

During the taped interview, Barlow denied attempting to have his parents killed.

 ''It's very strange the idea that someone would want to kill them. Especially myself,'' he said. ''I do not want to dispense with my parents. It is in my interest for them to be alive and paying the bills.''

Barlow also denied the taped conversation between him and 'John' related to a murder plot, and said in the event of his parents deaths, he planned to donate the Invercargill property to the Salvation Army, a claim Nicholas described as ''nonsense.''

Nicholas also refereed to a transcript of the conversation with 'John', which included Barlow saying ''I don't want it to look suspicious. Just bang'' and going on to discuss payments.

''What does that look like Alan?'' Nicholas asked. ''You've been caught with your pants down.''

Crown lawyer Hayley Sheridan outlined a number of factors she said combined to mean the jury must record a guilty verdict.  

She pointed to Barlow's financial problems and the house as providing motive, the recorded conversations with 'John' and the fact that at their meeting, Barlow provided 'John' with a map of his parents home and information on their movements, security and health.

Sheridan said the floor plan - which had an X marked on his parents bedroom - was ''to provide a location for where the murder would take place.''

''He took real, substantial steps to cause 'John' to murder his parents,'' she said. ''What we are looking for is the intention. I think a jury could find him guilty.''

Defence lawyer Craig Tuck said the decision over a verdict hinged on whether the Crown had been able to prove intention beyond a reasonable doubt.''There is insufficient proof for that mental element of intent,'' he said.

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Tuck also said the taped conversations with 'John' were not proof enough of intent, and said the fact no money was ever paid was a significant factor.

''If you're in a car with someone who says they're a hitman, are you going to let them down softly'' he said. ''There is not sufficient evidence by the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The only safe verdict is not guilty.''  

- Waikato Times

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