Man accused of hiring 'hitman' to kill parents
His name was John and he said he was a hitman.
For $20,000 he had agreed to murder Diana Noeleen Barlow and Kevin James Barlow.
For their son Alan Barlow, though, there was only one problem. John was an undercover policeman, and his phone calls and meeting with Alan Barlow had all been recorded.
Barlow's trial on charges of attempting to procure a special duties police officer to murder his parents began at the High Court in Rotorua yesterday, with the jury getting a crash course in undercover police work.
"It's a generally understood part of undercover work that you don't identify yourself as a policeman," said "John", responding to questions from defence lawyer Craig Tuck over whether he had cautioned Barlow.
"To do so would make a nonsense of the undercover role."
The High Court was told that after a dispute over a house in Invercargill that Barlow co-owned with his parents, he used Facebook to contact distant relative Daniel Ryder, an anti-Child Youth and Family activist, in an attempt to have his parents murdered.
Ryder told the court that Barlow gave him his parents' names, telling him they had children in their care who were in danger, "and I was to kill them."
"I was stunned," Ryder said. "Alan used the word kill."
Ryder said he passed on his concerns to the police, who initiated a sting operation. The court heard recorded phone conversations, including one between "John" and Barlow, recorded on October 11, 2013.
"My name is John and I understand you have a problem in Invercargill. I fix those kinds of problems for people. Do you understand what I'm talking about?", said "John".
During subsequent phone conversations, Barlow explained what he wanted.
"I need these two out of my life totally. Gone," he said. "I don't want it to look suspicious. Just bang."
The jury was also shown a hand-drawn plan of the house Barlow had provided "John", with an X marking his parents' bedroom.
Barlow's mother Diana also gave evidence, telling the court her son was aware her will left him the house in the event of his parents' deaths.
Barlow's defence lawyer confirmed from "John" that at no stage had any money been paid, describing his role as a "salesman".
"Your role was to offer to do a murder. You were selling a murder, weren't you," Tuck said.
The trial is set to continue and is expected to last a further two days.