Whitney Franks allegedly posted an ad on the dark web offering £1,000 'or more' for someone to kill her colleague and romantic rival while the two of them were both involved in an affair with their store manager, a father of two

A 26-year-old woman allegedly tried to hire a hitman on the dark web to kill her work colleague when she discovered they were both having an affair with their Sports Direct store manager, a father of two with a long-term partner.

Whitney Franks, who was described in court as ‘rampantly jealous’, is accused of trying to hire an online assassin after posting an ad on the dark web offering £1,000 ‘or more’ for the hit.

Prosecutor Andrew Copeland told the court that the ad 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.’

Posted alongside the ad was the address, Facebook profile and description of her work colleague Ruut Ruutna.

The court was told that Ruutna was Franks’ work colleague who joined the Milton Keynes store and began an affair with general manager James Prest, with the two women competing for his attention.

Whitney Franks allegedly posted an ad on the dark web offering £1,000 ‘or more’ for someone to kill her colleague and romantic rival while the two of them were both involved in an affair with their store manager, a father of two

The court was told that Franks had set up a cryptocurrency account to make anonymous purchases online.

She bought £282.57 worth of Bitcoin on August 20 but withdrew the amount three days later, it was claimed.

The workplace romance is alleged to have begun in 2016, a year after Franks began working at the store, and continuing when Ruutna joined the team in 2017. 

‘They were not only work colleagues but love rivals of James Prest and both were romantically involved with him at the same time,’ said Prosecutor Andrew Copeland.

Putting a barrier between their secret relationship, Franks was moved to a different store in 2018 in Bletchley. 

The court heard how Prest, who has a long term partner with two young children, tried to ‘play them off against each other’ and that his relationship with both women was ‘episodic’.

‘By 2020 James Prest would, while his partner and children were in bed, frequently leave his house and go to Ruut Ruutna’s house,’ said the prosecutor. 

The court heard that one incident put Prest on alert one night on August 17, 2020, when Franks showed up at the Milton Keynes Sports Direct to confront him about his relationship with Ruutna.

Prest was upset when she made a comment about him ‘sneaking around at night’.

‘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?’ asked the prosecutor.

‘She must have been following him,’ he added.

Their relationship seems to have dwindled, with Franks sending her manager an email asking him to give her another chance.

James Prest, pictured, was the general store manager of a Sports Direct store in Milton Keynes who allegedly began an affair with two of his underlings. The court heard how he would ‘play them off against each other’ and that his relationship with both women was ‘episodic’

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.’

But the online ad, instead of being taken up by a budget hitman, was instead seen by an investigative journalist at the BBC.

The court heard that the day after Franks wrote the letter to her manager, police received a call from Carl Miller, who had been investigating corners of the dark web.

The court heard that the post had been made anonymously, with police only able to identify that Ruutna was in danger.

Police quickly took her to save house for her protection and continued the investigation.

Ruutna told police she had a ‘hunch’ who was behind the listing, leading to the arrest of Franks on September 10, 2020, who is now on trial for soliciting to murder at the Reading Crown Court.

Franks has denied the charges, insisting she had only been looking into the dark web and had no intention of ordering a hit on anyone.

Source link

By Jon Doe