Prisoner plotted to kill wife

An “obsessed” prisoner hatched a second plot to kill his wife from his Norwich jail cell while serving time for committing the very same crime just months before, a court heard.

An “obsessed” prisoner hatched a second plot to kill his wife from his Norwich jail cell while serving time for committing the very same crime just months before, a court heard.

Graham Cundell, 45, tried to hire a fellow inmate to murder his wife Tracey but his efforts were foiled twice in a year after prisoners informed on him.

Cundell, a builder, had his stretch in jail increased from five years to life at Norwich Crown Court with an order to serve a minimum of seven-and-a-half years.

A jury found him guilty of soliciting to murder and perverting the course of justice after hearing that he tried to bribe two other prisoners into providing him with an alibi.

He decided to kill his wife, who now has a new identity, after becoming depressed about the breakdown of their marriage.

Plot one, which saw Cundell, who has a 12-year-old daughter, try to hire two hitmen in what Judge Peter Jacobs called a “very determined” effort, was thwarted by detectives after they were alerted to his plans and went undercover to catch him.

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Just before Christmas 2004 Cundell was arrested by two officers posing as the hitmen turning up to collect £10,000 of the £15,000 “fee”.

Cundell admitted soliciting to murder and was jailed for five years in March 2005 but just five months into his sentence at Norwich prison he had a “second bite of the cherry,” Tim Brown, defending, told the court.

He badgered a fellow inmate who was serving a sentence for murder to organise another plot but this prisoner eventually told a warden in what Judge Jacobs described as a “courageous” move.

Mr Brown said that events between his client's arrest for the first plot and his admission to prison had happened so fast that he had not had time to “get out of the mindset.”

Said Mr Brown: “He will get out of that mindset if he hasn't already,” adding that Cundell was making good progress in jail, taking several courses and becoming a prisoner listener, offering advice to other inmates.

A pre-sentence psychiatric report found that Cundell, of Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, was not morbidly obsessed with his wife but Judge Jacobs said it was clear he was a dangerous threat.

Referring to the first prisoner's decision to tell wardens of Cundell's request to arrange a hitman, the judge said: “It took courage on his part because the culture in prison is that of 'don't grass', this was not beneficial to him.

“Speaking to you it was obvious to him that once you got out you really wanted to murder your wife; that is how obsessed you got over this matter.”

He continued: “In this case, my own conviction after observing you in the witness box, and hearing from people including a number of hardened prisoners, is that you really want to murder your wife.

“I am totally convinced of that.”

Mrs Cundell said that, at the time of the first conviction, part of her “died” the day her husband had set for her death.

A police spokeswoman said: “We are pleased with the sentence that has been received which it is the culmination of a long and unusual investigation involving prisoners.”

James Shanley, governor of Norwich prison, said: “It does take a lot of courage for people who are prisoners themselves to come forward when there has been a wrongdoing and it is nice to see this was acknowledged by the judge in the court.

“Hopefully it will encourage people to come forward with similar information in future.”