24 Hours in Police Custody reveals woman's bid to hire hitmen
- Credit: Archant
It began when a man handed Cambridgeshire police a secretly recorded conversation that appeared to show his girlfriend offering to pay someone to commit murder.
And it ended when Victoria Breeden, 39, of Black Horse Drove, Littleport, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison at Chelmsford Crown Court in July after being found guilty of three counts of soliciting to murder Rob Parkes.
The investigation into how Breeden plotted to have her ex-husband killed will be the focus of a two-part special of 24 Hours in Police Custody.
Channel 4 viewers on Monday (January 4) will go behind the scenes of the investigation that began when the case was brought to the attention of the force in November 2019.
Breeden’s most current former partner, Graham Wall, approached officers with a 24-minute recording.
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Mr Wall feared Breeden was having an affair and hid his phone in a cupboard under the stairs of her home to see what she was up to.
When he retrieved it the next day he listened to the recording of Breeden and another man, Earl Gernon, talking about how easy it would be to ‘make someone disappear’.
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The recording heard talk of the different ways her ex-husband, Rob Parkes, could be murdered or seriously injured, and that it would cost between £10 and £15,000 for a ‘see you later’.
Detective Inspector Mike Barnshaw, who led the investigation, said: “This was a five-month long investigation into Breeden’s repeated solicitations of men to kill her ex-husband over a number of years.
“Viewers will see how calculating, targeted, persistent and dangerous her behaviour was, all motivated by her hatred of Mr Parkes.
“The show highlights that Cambridgeshire police, irrespective of who is involved, take all matters of domestic abuse seriously and I would encourage anyone suffering to contact us and be assured that we will help.”
24 Hours in Police Custody: Black Widow will be shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday (January 4) and Tuesday.
At her trial the prosecution had alleged that Breeden was out for revenge against the man who had “robbed her of her best friend, robbed her of her daughter and robbed her of her family”.
“She may have failed but she tried hard to make it happen,” prosecutor Christopher Paxton said at her trial.
Breeden was initially charged with conspiracy to murder but further investigation revealed it wasn’t the first time she had made these enquiries and requests for help.
During a trial in March, Breeden was found guilty of persuading Hamish Lowry-Martin to murder Mr Parkes between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
She was also found guilty of persuading Graham Wall to kill him between October 19,2018 and October 3, 2019 and persuading Earl Gernon to murder him on October 2, 2019.
Breeden was found not guilty of persuading Daniel Proctor to kill him in November 2016.
She gave no evidence in court.
DI Barnshaw said: “Breeden’s behaviour was calculating, targeted, persistent and dangerous. It was motivated by her hatred of Mr Parkes and a jury have convicted her on three counts”.
In his closing speech to the jury in March, Mr Paxton QC, reminded them that Breeden was captured on tape saying: “He cheated on me with my best friend and then married her.”
He said: “Mr Parkes has become a figure she hates and despises. She tried time and time again to have him killed.
“Mr Parkes has not just torn her family apart but remains the barrier from having access to her daughter.
Mr Paxton had told the jury that the threat posed by Breeden was real and serious.
Breeden’s barrister Matthew Jewell QC told the jury: ‘You have to be sure she was trying to persuade each of these men to assist in the killing of Rob Parkes.
“Not making inquiries about it, not joking about it, not simply have a state of mind - if you think that she wanted that to happen - but actually trying to persuade these men to become involved.”
Mr Jewell concluded his final submissions by saying: ‘You are not concerned with whether Victoria Breeden hated Rob Parkes, whether she wanted him killed.
“You are concerned about whether she tried to persuade anyone to assist her in that.”