In a quiet suburban Adelaide home a wife decides she wants her husband dead.
Doris Ann Brundritt has decided she wants her estranged husband gone — and in what could be a scene straight from the movies — last summer attempted to hire hitmen to kill him.
But in a twist worthy of the big screen those hitmen were actually undercover police officers and Brundritt was arrested and charged with soliciting murder.
The 45-year-old has pleaded guilty to the charge at the South Australian Supreme Court but has pleaded not guilty to an additional count of solicting murder, which allegedly occurred three years earlier in January 2010.
She feared the impact publication of her name would have on her children but a judge earlier this year rejected her bid for name secrecy.
Her matter returns to the Supreme Court on August 22 but it isn’t an isolated case There are many other recent examples, including ones that are currently playing out in courtrooms across Australia.
In Melbourne, 41-year-old Robyn Jane Lindholm this week is facing a committal hearing on a murder charge along with two men police allege she convinced to kill her ex-partner.
In Western Australia a 74-year-old man, Brian Vincent Attwell, was found guilty of trying to hire a hitman to kill his former daughter-in-law, who was embroiled in a legal dispute with his son.
He was accused of paying $10,000 to an undercover policeman to kill daughter-in-law Michelle Attwell. The court heard he had described her as a “nuisance to society” and “a maggot” but he denied actually ordering the hit.
And earlier this month Chris Soteriou told Channel 7’s Sunday Night program of surviving a hit placed on him by his wife Vicky, who arranged her lover Ari Dimitrakis to stab him on his 44th birthday.
These cases might seem extraordinary but in fact, hitmen or contract killers, have been a feature of Australian crime for decades.
Research conducted into local hits in the early 2000s by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is still one of the most significant pieces of work into contract killing anywhere in the world.
That work — by John Venditto and Jenny Mouzos — shattered the notion that hitmen were only hired by underworld figures similar to those depicted in The Godfather or Sopranos, or to eliminate someone with a drug debt, for example.
They are working for your wife, husband, lover or anyone else who knows you well — and wants you out of the way so much they are prepared to pay thousands of dollars for someone to do their dirty work for them.
Contract killings in Australia are usually personal- or domestic-related scenarios than for political or economic reasons.
If money was the motivation then usually it was still a domestic relationship, in the form of payouts on superannuation, insurance and through the person’s estate and not a shady business deal gone wrong, the AIC study showed.
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