Wife jailed for hiring hitman

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A care worker was jailed for seven years today for taking out a home-improvements loan to pay a hitman to kill her husband.

Zoe Kenealy, 44, of Kenley, Surrey, was found guilty at the Old Bailey in April of soliciting murder.

Her husband Timothy put his head in his hands as he heard Judge Gregory Stone call Kenealy's plot "cynical and cruel".

Mr Kenealy, a 51-year-old catering worker, has said he would stand by his wife and forgave her.

Judge Stone praised Kenealy's family, particularly her father, for giving her up to police after learning of her plans.

The court was told that Kenealy took out a £4,500 loan because she wanted her husband dead in order to collect a £33,000 insurance policy.

She had been in a violent relationship with her first husband, said she felt smothered by Mr Kenealy and they had financial problems.

She had two young sons by Mr Kenealy and four other children from her first marriage.

Simon Wild, prosecuting, said she gave neighbour Lee Waite, 31, £3,000 to hire someone for the hit but he pocketed the money.

She was arrested in January 2007 after members of the family called in police.

Kenealy had texted her brother a number of times asking for cash to have her husband killed because she said she hated him.

She started applying for £10,000 loans from November 2006, but was turned down by two companies before being granted the loan by Welcome Financial Services.

Nicholas Atkinson QC, defending, told the judge today: "This is a desperately sad woman. She found her husband difficult to cope with."

He said Kenealy had been infatuated by Mr Waite, although there had been no sexual relationship.

He had taken advantage of her to get the money but had no intention of harming Mr Kenealy.

"There was no risk. It was never going to happen," said Mr Atkinson.