Man hired in murder conspiracy was arrested in Portsmouth

Louis Makai. Picture: Sussex Police

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A MAN hired in a murder conspiracy was arrested in Portsmouth after attacking a woman.

It comes as the boss of an alpaca transport company and two other men have been jailed for 30 years for conspiring to murder his wife, police have said.

Bruce Killick, 63, from Brooks Green, near Horsham, West Sussex, was found guilty of the planned attack against his wife, Susan, on February 18, following a five-week trial at Hove Crown Court.

He was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment to serve a minimum of 20 years. He was convicted of hiring labourer Karl Cruise, 55, through alpaca farmer Graham Martin, 39, who are both British nationals living in Plouray in the Brittany region of France.

The court heard that Killick claimed his payment of £10,000 to the pair was for an alpaca as a 30th wedding anniversary present to his wife.

Sentencing them, Judge Michael Lawson said: ‘This was a horrific offence born out of greed and lust. The victim thought this was a marriage of joy and this has been violated and destroyed for financial gain.’

Martin was jailed for 30 years to serve a minimum of 20 and Cruise for 30 to serve a minimum of 15 as well as 11 years to run concurrently for GBH with intent.

Describing the planned attack which Mrs Killick survived, a Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘On the afternoon of February 18, Susan had been home alone in Emms Lane when she had answered the door to Cruise, who claimed his car had broken down.

‘He asked to use her phone to contact a garage but followed her into her kitchen where he then began his attack.

‘He first hit her with a hammer and then punched her, knocking her to the ground and smashed her head repeatedly on the floor.

‘He then attacked her with a plant pot, screwdriver and tried to use a stun gun on her. The then 61-year-old victim still managed to fight him off and stopped him from hitting her over the head with a heavy step stool.

‘Cruise then dragged her across the kitchen before trying to stab her, first with a blunt bread knife and then with a paring knife. It was only when Cruise became very short of breath, having suffered a medical episode that she was able to get away from him, alerting her next door neighbours.

‘Her quick thinking neighbour was able to take down part of Cruise’s French number plate and he was arrested in Portsmouth that evening. Cruise pleaded guilty to GBH with intent.

‘Killick had made arrangements to ensure he was not at the address when the attack occurred and to provide him with a legitimate alibi.’

The jury heard how he had sent texts to Martin asking how much to get rid of someone but always maintained the £10,000 transferred to Martin just days before the attack was for an alpaca for his and Susan’s 30th wedding anniversary.

Detective Inspector David Springett said: ‘This was a planned and incredibly brutal attack against Mrs Killick, orchestrated by her husband and carried out by his criminal associates.

‘I am sure that if it was not for her sustained self defence then Mrs Killick would not have survived this assault. Thankfully she has largely recovered physically but I have no doubt her emotional trauma will be long felt.

‘This offence has been motivated by greed and Mr Killick’s desire to start a new life with his mistress. The fact he has been married to Mrs Killick for over 30 years and sought to explain the payment of funds for the murder as an anniversary present for her are chilling.

‘I am delighted the jury has found all three guilty of the part they played in trying to plan this murder. I hope Mrs Killick is able to continue to recover and carry on with her life and put this ordeal behind her knowing her attackers have been brought to justice.’