Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 14:06 UK

Jury retires in hitman hire trial

Brookwood Cemetery
Ramadan Guney was the owner of Brookwood Cemetery in Woking

An Old Bailey jury in the trial of a cemetery boss accused of hiring a hitman to kill his late father's lover has retired to consider its verdict.

Erkin Guney, 44, managing director of Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, Surrey, denies soliciting the murder of Diane Holliday in 2008.

He is accused of hiring a hitman, that was actually an undercover officer, to stop her claiming his father's fortune.

He told the court he had been set up and played along with the subterfuge.

Mr Guney, who was released on appeal from a 14-year jail sentence for drug and firearms offences, said he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

'Hit and run'

Earlier he told jurors he had spotted a police "set-up" and went along with it to find out who was behind it.

The court also heard from grave digger Sabbah Shahmuradi who said Mr Guney offered him £10,000 to kill Ms Holliday.

Mr Shahmuradi said Mr Guney thought the woman was behind his father's death.

He said the pair discussed killing Miss Holliday in a hit-and-run accident to make it look like she had been hit by a drunk driver but had no intention of carrying out the plot and told police about the approach when he was arrested over an unrelated theft allegation.

The prosecution said Surrey Police staged an accident near Miss Holliday's home, to persuade Mr Guney that she had been run over.

Jurors were told he he did not turn up to pay the "hitman", an undercover police officer, the promised £10,000 but had about £23,000 in cash when he was arrested at home.

Mrs Holliday, 47, had been living with Mr Guney's late father, Ramadan, 76.

The defence branded her a "gold digger" and said she had tried to blackmail Harrods boss Mohammed al-Fayed, after his son Dodi died in the Paris car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

She denied the claim.

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