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Sports Direct worker who tried to hire a hitman on the dark web to murder female colleague is jailed

A jealous woman who thought she hired the infamous Mexican Sinaloa cartel to kill a love rival in Milton Keynes has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Whitney Franks took to the dark web to find someone willing to kill the woman who worked with her at Sports Direct after discovering they were both having sex with their manager, James Perst.

The 26-year-old shop assistant offered £1,000 to anyone willing to kill 29-year-old Rutt Ruutna. However, her plot backfired when her posts on the Sinaloa Cartel Cyber ​​Team forum were spotted by a BBC investigative journalist who passed the details to police.

Franks had put her intended victim’s details online so that the Mexican Sicario would know where to go once he got to Milton Keynes.

Franks, dressed in a black top and high ponytail, sobbed in the dock as Judge Paul Dugdale sent her downstairs.

Whitney Franks

James Perst

James Perst

Whitney Franks took to the dark web to find someone willing to kill 29-year-old Rutt Ruutna who worked with her at Sports Direct in Milton Keynes after discovering they were both having sex with their manager, James Perst.

A court had previously heard that the defendant was competing for the affection of Franks’ lover, the general manager of Sports Direct, James Perst. This is despite the fact that both women knew he had a long-term partner and two children.

Franks’s messages, posted on a page claiming to be the infamous Sinaloa cartel, had been discovered by the BBC journalist in August 2020.

The court learned that Mr. Prest was in a relationship with the two women while he had a partner and two children at home.

Prosecutor Andrew Copeland said: “She had used the dark web, as discovered by Carl Miller, an investigative journalist for the BBC.

He found two conversations the suspect was having. One said: “I am looking for the murder of a woman. I have £1,000 and am willing to pay more. This woman has caused myself and others a lot of trouble.”

“After the police were alerted by Mr Miller, they went to Ms Ruttna’s address where her landlady referred them to the Sports Direct. They spoke to her and she was in disbelief, but she did say, “I have a hunch who did this – Whitney Franks.”‘

The court heard that Franks was arrested in September 2020 and was subject to a conditional interview, admitting to having looked on the dark web.

She had also deposited £282.57 in a BitCoin wallet.

Franks posted on the dark web that she wanted 29-year-old Rutt Ruutna (pictured) killed and provided details of her social media accounts and address to help the hit man

Franks posted on the dark web that she wanted 29-year-old Rutt Ruutna (pictured) killed and provided details of her social media accounts and address to help the hit man

Franks posted on the dark web that she wanted 29-year-old Rutt Ruutna (pictured) killed and provided details of her social media accounts and address to help the hit man

Franks previously denied the charges, claiming she believed the website was a scam and that she knew her victim was not in danger. Despite this, she was unanimously convicted of murder in July this year, after just four hours of deliberation.

In defense, James McCrindell said: ‘The defendant understands very well that, upon conviction in this case, she should be given a prison sentence of sufficient length, but in the specific circumstances a much shorter sentence may be handed down.

“There are two series of talks over two days and what is happening here is an attempt to get her BitCoin back, so the conclusion must be that she persevered and then stopped.

“The evidence at the trial was that the people she was dealing with were scammers, so in fact nothing would ever happen. Mrs. Franks has done nothing to put the plan into practice. All that has happened is that the request has been made.’

Mr McCrindell said his client became isolated and in a “very dark place” during the lockdown, exacerbating her jealousy.

Judge Paul Dugdale, sitting at Reading Crown Court, pictured jailed Franks for 12 years and ruled she must serve two-thirds of the sentence before she can apply for parole

Judge Paul Dugdale, sitting at Reading Crown Court, pictured jailed Franks for 12 years and ruled she must serve two-thirds of the sentence before she can apply for parole

Judge Paul Dugdale, sitting at Reading Crown Court, pictured jailed Franks for 12 years and ruled she must serve two-thirds of the sentence before she can apply for parole

Sentenced in Reading Crown Court, Judge Paul Dugdale said: ‘In the reality of being in lockdown at home and accessing the dark web, Whitney Franks may not have really thought about what she was doing through naivety, but access to it dark web to access an organization They called themselves the Sinaloa Cartel Cyber ​​Team and she tried to contact them to hire someone to kill Rutt Ruttna.

“She gave that organization Rutt Ruutna’s name, address, social media information, everything they needed to find her. She said right at the beginning, “I’m looking for people for the murder of a woman.”

“I understand from everything I’ve read that that wasn’t right and, very unfortunate for Whitney Franks and her family and friends here, that this action makes this violation very serious.”

Franks, of Two Mile Ash, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison. She will have to serve two-thirds of this sentence before she is eligible for parole.

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