Rejected lover uses payday loan to hire hitmen

Jailed for 50 years

Luigi Dalli

A jilted lover has been jailed for 50 years after taking out a payday loan to hire hitmen to have his rival killed.

Luigi Dalli, 46, planned the killing after his ex-girlfriend, Joanna Beech, started a new relationship with Kurt Crawford. He also intimidated her by damaging her car, following her and sending her Facebook messages from fake accounts warning her off Mr Crawford.

When this didn't work, he enlisted the help of another ex-girlfriend, Caroline Meighan, to recruit local 'hard men' Liam Johnson, 20, and Carl Johnson, 28. Sickeningly, it's emerged, he borrowed £1,000 from a payday loan company to pay them.

The brothers agreed to kill Mr Crawford for just £500 each - and, last June, attacked him with an axe and a knife outside his Burnley home, inflicting serious injuries.

"Kurt Crawford was savagely attacked near to his home after Luigi Dalli hatched a plot to kill him and hired the Johnson brothers to carry out his scheme," says Detective Inspector Martin Melvin of Burnley Police.

"Mr Crawford was left with injuries to his abdomen, lacerations to the liver, perforation of the small bowel and other axe and knife wounds. He was lucky to survive."

Yesterday, the Johnson brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm at Manchester Crown Court - but were convicted of conspiracy to murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

Dalli was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and soliciting to murder and was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 15 years.

Meighan was convicted of conspiracy to commit section 18 wounding and was jailed for three years.

"The sentences handed down today reflect the gravity of these very serious offences," says DI Melvin.

Even after he'd been arrested, Dalli had another shot at the murder. While on remand, he tried to recruit another prisoner to carry out the hit. However, the man revealed the plan to police.

If Dalli had been successful, he'd have been getting quite a bargain. Research two years ago by Birmingham City University criminologist Professor David Wilson found that the average cost of a paid hit since 1974 has been £15,000.

"The motivations to pay a hitman the relatively small amount to carry out a murder were often depressingly banal. Spouses fell out, business deals fell apart, and young gang members wanted to impress their elders," he says.

"The reality of British hitmen stands in strong contrast to the fiction."

Police shoot-out with UK-registered car in France

Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes

Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes