TWO men have been jailed for life for the "calculated, cold blooded and brutal" murder of Tingley car dealer Christopher Hartley.
A jury of 11 men and one women took just over 11 hours to unanimously convict David Large and hitman Simon Mullen of murdering Tingley businessman Christopher Hartley on September 8 last year.
The jury heard Mr Hartley, 45, was a gay man who had a 15-year infatuation with Large. It was claimed Mr Hartley, of Batley Road, was the dominant partner and sometimes violent towards Large during their intimate relationship.
But the court heard how Large, 36, formally of Broadcroft Drive, Tingley, wanted to start a new life with Netherton woman Dawn Mallinson and resorted to drastic measures against Mr Hartley. The only way he could see to end his relationship with Mr Hartley was by having him killed.
The court heard that the accused were friends and allegedly made coded references to a gun and bullets during a conversation on social networking site Facebook after Large recruited Mullen and paid him a substantial sum to pull the trigger.
Mr Hartley, who had a drug factory within the grounds of his Tingley home, was lured to the remote layby on Litherop Lane, Clayton West near Huddersfield, on the pretext of a drug deal.
But he was blasted with a shot gun at close range in the head and chest beside his Jaguar. Legal recreational drugs were found by his body and 20,000 ecstasy pills were later discovered at his home.
Large, who was in London at the time of the killing, arrived at Miss Mallinson' s home hours after the murder with what was believed to be 100,000 in cash and told her "It's done."
Later Mullen, who was on benefits, went on a 25,000 spending spree after pocketing his fee for the killing.
Large, now of Rona Croft, Rothwell and Mullen, of Farding Square, South Shields, both denied any involvement in the murder.
Passing sentence, Judge James Goss QC said: "It was a calculated, cold blooded and brutal crime" and that it had been made to look like a "drug deal gone wrong."
He said the two men would serve a minimum of 30 years before being considered for parole.
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mr Hartley's brother Steven said: "David Large sat in our mum's living room after Chris had died and pretended to grieve with our mum. He told us he was helping the police all he could.
"He lied to the police and to us about what happened that now. Now we have to live with this awful betrayal for the rest of our lives."
Det Supt Chris Thompson of West Yorkshire Police's HMET said:"David Large was a man steeped in crime who lived an opulent lifestyle, owning fast cars and large houses both at home and abroad, all of which were funded through fraud and drugs.
"When he wanted to split from his partner and lover of 15-years, Large carefully planned with Simon Mullen to lure Christopher Hartley to a secluded spot in Huddersfield where he was shot through the head at point blank range in what was a pre-meditated, cold blooded and merciless killing.
"Following the killing, Large and Mullen concocted a complex alibi deliberately attempting to mislead the police that this was a drugs deal gone wrong. However, under investigation, this alibi unravelled to reveal the extent of their lies and deception.
"Large and Mullen are fantasists and believed that they had committed the perfect crime. Like others before them, they now face the consequences of their actions."