Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:11 UK

Cemetery manager 'hired hitman'

Brookwood Cemetery
Brookwood Cemetery was brought by Mr Guney's father, a millionaire

A cemetery director hired a hitman who turned out to be an undercover police officer to kill his late father's lover, an Old Bailey jury has heard.

Erkin Guney, 44, managing director of Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, denies soliciting murder last year.

Jurors have heard he wanted to stop Diane Holliday claiming on the estate of his late father, a millionaire.

Gibson Grenfell QC, prosecuting, said the 44-year-old had "obvious hatred" for Miss Holliday.

Mr Grenfell said: "He (Mr Guney) thought she had something to do with the death of his father and she was claiming against his very considerable estate which he said she had no right to do."

Mr Grenfell said the defendant befriended a criminal called Sabbah Shahmuradi and offered him £10,000 to kill Miss Holliday.

The court heard that Mr Shahmuradi had no intention of carrying out the plot, and told police about the approach when he was arrested for theft.

Code phrase

Under police supervision and while wearing a recording device, Mr Shahmuradi went back to the defendant and said he had a contact called Zaf who would be interested, the court was told.

Jurors heard that telephone calls and meetings in a supermarket car park between Mr Guney and Zaf, an undercover police officer, were recorded.

In one of them Zaf asked Mr Guney how he wanted the job done, and Mr Guney allegedly answered: "Just run over."

Mr Grenfell said: "Erkin Guney said he wanted Miss Holliday to stop breathing.

"When it was done, he wanted Zaf to tell him 'the paint is dry', a code phrase, and someone would meet him and give him the money."

The court heard Surrey Police staged an accident near Miss Holliday's home, after which Zaf rang Mr Guney, gave him the code phrase, and asked him for the promised £10,000, but he did not turn up.

Mr Guney was later arrested at his home where some £23,000 in cash was also found, jurors heard.

Jurors heard that Mr Guney had been convicted and jailed for gun and drugs offences in 1996 but was freed on appeal in 2003.

After that, Mr Guney "felt that people were out to get him", Mr Grenfell said.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Guney claimed to have known all along that Zaf was a police officer, jurors were told.

The case continues.



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