Ex-TV producer lied about being village cricket umpire to continue affair

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A former TV producer who allegedly tried to hire hitmen to kill his scriptwriter partner has admitted making up elaborate lies about being an umpire for a village cricket team to carry on his affair with a young lover.

David Harris, 68, fed Hazel Allinson a stream of tales about his involvement with Arundel Castle Cricket Club so he could travel to London for "away days" with Ugne Cekaviciute, the Old Bailey heard.

The court has heard how Harris met carer Ms Cekaviciute in a brothel and blew tens of thousands of pounds of his partner's savings, showering her with gifts.

Harris is accused of trying to get rid of Ms Allinson, his partner of 27 years, to get his hands on her house and spend the rest of his days with Ms Cekaviciute, who is 40 years his junior.

The court heard how Harris was a "house husband" at the £800,000 home in Amberley, West Sussex, after retiring from television drama The Bill.

Meanwhile, Ms Allinson, who also worked on the show, had an active social life in the village as a member of the church choir, book club and parish council.

Cross-examining, William Boyce QC asked Harris if he had ever been in a village cricket team, and the defendant said he had not.

The prosecutor said: "Is it right that you told Hazel you were an umpire? You would say Jonathan from the village cricket team and you were going off to far, far villages to umpire?"

Harris said: "That's correct."

Mr Boyce said: "When you were telling Hazel you were umpiring for far, far matches you were with Ugne."

Harris agreed.

The lawyer went on: "So what you had constructed for Hazel's consumption was an elaborate story.

"You say firstly being too unwell to play cricket, someone who would have liked to bat and bowl, you had been persuaded by Jonathan that you had a role to play in cricket umpiring and because you were the person who could drive, you were the person who had to do the matches furthest away from where you lived.

"That's why you had to be away for so long, you never got the local matches.

"The whole thing was an elaborate lie dreamed up by you to deceive Hazel to get regular away days with Ugne.

"You would tell Hazel you were an umpire on Arundel Castle Cricket Club. It was all a complete fabrication."

Harris replied: "It was."

Jurors were told how Harris also lied to Ms Allinson about supporting his brother in hospital while he was on "suicide watch".

Harris said: "That's correct. This whole thing completely blew out of proportion."

Mr Boyce said: "You could make things up with considerable ease and make it sound convincing, couldn't you?"

The defendant replied: "At times, yes."

Harris has denied soliciting the murder of Ms Allinson by offering £200,000 to three potential hitmen, including an undercover officer.

He has told jurors he was researching a thriller, although he admitted he had never written anything down.

Mr Boyce asked why Harris did not go to the police after meeting men who appeared to be a risk to public safety.

He said: "You were not going to the police because you were trying to find someone who would kill Hazel on your terms."

Harris said: "No sir."

On Harris's web of lies, Mr Boyce said: "At any time there could be a straw that broke the camel's back and Hazel would have you out, kick you out."

The list included Harris using her good name in the village to ask for money, the cricket club umpiring, his brother's fictional spell in hospital and his explanation for the purchase of a Hermes cashmere sweater on Ms Allinson's credit card.

Harris even got Ms Allinson to unwittingly help do his lover's college homework, the court heard.

Mr Boyce said: "How much do you expect her to put up with, Mr Harris?

"You must have thought even the angelic Hazel must have her limits."

Harris replied: "I cannot answer that question."

Harris conceded he had handed over enough personal information about Ms Allinson for potential hitmen to find and kill her but insisted he was "in control".

Mr Boyce asked: "How could you possibly take that risk with the woman you say is your soulmate?

"May I suggest this is truly absurd. You were recruiting these people because you were at your wits' end and could see no way out."

Harris said: "Yes, I was at my wits' end. You suggest I'm a liar and deceitful but I'm not a murderer and neither would I ever consider murdering Hazel."

The defendant was accused of betraying the trust of Ms Allinson over the five years of his affair.

Mr Boyce said: "You use and abuse people to please yourself. You are completely self-centred, aren't you?"

Harris admitted he had used and abused people but had found God and become a Catholic during his time in jail awaiting trial.

He added: "I'm not proud of anything I have done and I have never wanted to hurt Hazel."