Jailed paedophile offered £7,000 to kill his target

By Cahal Milmo
Tuesday 19 November 2002 01:00

A paedophile jailed for indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl admitted yesterday he tried to hire a hitman to murder his victim from his cell.

Stuart Spring, 33, wrote a letter discussing the proposed killing and enclosing a newspaper clipping showing a group of children including the girl, whose head he had circled. The sex offender, who was serving four years for assaulting her in July last year, also described how he wanted to read about her body "being discovered in woodland somewhere".

But unknown to Spring, the "contract killer" he met several times at Pentonville prison, north London, was an undercover police officer. Operation Medcalf was launched by a special Scotland Yard unit earlier this year after Spring boasted to a fellow inmate, detailing the assault and how he wanted the girl to be killed.

During talks with the police officer, named only as Joe, the prisoner said he was prepared to pay between £7,000 and £10,000, held at an undisclosed place. Yesterday he pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to soliciting the girl's murder and was remanded in custody for psychiatric reports until a hearing next month.

He had told Joe he wanted the girl to be "terminated" and "erased". A tape recording of the meetings in the prison visiting room showed Spring did not even lower his voice. He said: "I want a person I want missing, a girl missing. If her mum gives you any hassle, just give her a slap. Permanent missing as in, er, disposed of, if you catch my drift. I want her terminated."

Commander Dave Armond, of the Yard's serious crime group, said: "Spring blamed her for his predicament of being in prison." The family was put under police protection during the operation.

Officers hailed Spring's conviction as a success for its murder suppression team, a new type of unit set up to intercept individuals known or suspected to be planning a killing. Spring was put in contact with the "killer" through an unnamed intermediary between the underworld and police.