Woman Found Guilty Of Hiring Hitman To Kill Her Sports Direct Colleague
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A woman has been found guilty for trying to hire someone to kill her colleague.
Whitney Franks shared messages on the dark web offering '£1,000 or more' to someone willing to kill Ruut Ruutna, who she worked with at Sports Direct in Milton Keynes.
The 26-year-old also posted a link to her colleague’s Facebook profile, along with her address and a description.
Ruutna, the court heard, had had an affair with Franks' partner James Prest in August 2020.
According to prosecutor Andrew Copeland, Franks’ full message read: "I’m looking for the murder of a woman. I have £1,000 and I am willing to pay more.
"This woman has caused a lot of problems for myself and others. Please can you help sort this out."
However, the post was spotted by a BBC journalist, who tipped off the police.
Following a four-day trial, Franks was found guilty of soliciting murder.
During the court case, Franks was described as being ‘deeply jealous’, while Prest - who has a long-term partner and two children - was accused of 'playing the two women off against each other'.
Franks and Prest’s romance is thought to have started in 2016, a year after the former started working at the store, and continued when Ruutna joined in 2017.
Copeland said: "By 2020 James Prest would, while his partner and children were in bed, frequently leave his house and go to Ruut Ruutna’s house."
He added of Franks and Ruutna: "They were not only work colleagues but love rivals of James Prest and both were romantically involved with him at the same time."
In 2018, Franks was moved to a different store, but by 2020, her actions started to alarm Prest.
On 17 August 2020, Franks showed up to the Milton Keynes shop to confront Prest over his relationship with Ruutna, accusing him of ‘sneaking around at night’.
Copeland queried: "Both ladies did not speak to each other or about each other - how did she know about James Prest going around Ruut Ruutna’s at night? She must have been following him."
After her relationship with Prest dwindled, Franks sent him an email asking for another chance.
It read: “I can give you the entire world James, if you can give me a chance I think you could be the happiest you have ever been in your life. I truly mean it,' the court heard.
“I hope you’re doing well inside and out. I have been trying to sort out my anxiety. I have found some things that could help, so I’m going to give them a go.”
After being tipped off about the post, police contacted Ruutna to warn her that she was in danger.
Ruutna told them she had a 'hunch' who was behind the listing, resulting in Franks’ arrest on 10 September 2020.