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Mother glad at murder plot verdict

By Jill Nicholas

Alan Francis Barlow.
Alan Francis Barlow.

A woman who was the intended target of a hitman is elated her son has been found guilty of trying to organise the crime, a relative says.

A jury yesterday found Tauranga man Alan Francis Barlow engaged an undercover policeman who was masquerading as a hitman to murder his elderly parents.

Barlow was found guilty in the High Court at Rotorua after the jury deliberated for just 70 minutes.

Justice Denis Clifford remanded him in custody for sentencing on September 26. He requested a possible home detention address.

Barlow stood emotionless in the dock as the verdict came in.

Outside the court, a distant relative, Daniel Ryder, who testified against Barlow, said the verdict left him ecstatic. He had immediately contacted Barlow's mother who shared his elation.

"This has been very distressing for the whole family," Mr Ryder said. "Trying to get someone to murder your parents just isn't family morals."

Long-time family friends John and Johanna Hutchings of Tauranga were worried about how he would cope behind bars. "He doesn't deserve this," they said, claiming a long history of family dysfunction had led to the charge Barlow faced.

Tauranga detective Logan Nicholas gave the jury a rundown of his interview with Barlow last December 12 and a video of the interview was played to the court.

In it, Barlow repeatedly and strenuously denied wanting to have his parents murdered after falling out with them over the Invercargill home they jointly owned and financial matters related to it.

Barlow claimed to have never had anything to do with a man offering to fix his problems by getting rid of his parents, saying he wanted them alive and paying the bills, such as the mortgage and insurance. He claimed his cousin Daniel Ryder indicated he was going to get someone to do something for him but he did not know what. He said that after a couple of phone calls he had met the undercover officer masquerading as a hitman. During the calls the officer had described himself as a fixer, but Barlow said he did not know what he was planning to fix.

A few thousand dollars had been mentioned. "I thought it was just fixing my house or car," he said.

Questioned about giving the man a plan of his parents' home, Barlow said he handed it over because he was asked for it. He repeated that he did not want his parents dead, just away from him.

Closing the Crown case, prosecutor Hayley Sheridan said Barlow provided a floor plan of his parents' home with an X marking where they slept, and information such as his father being confined to a wheelchair.

"This confirmed to the hitman that he wanted his parents killed."

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