Milton Keynes: Police foil ‘dangerous’ dark web murder plot

Two police officers have been handed commendations for their work in jailing a ‘dangerous’ woman who tried to solicit the murder of a love rival. 

Detective Constable Mandy Banfield and Police Staff Investigator Lindsey Devoy have received commendations from Thames Valley Police for their ‘exceptional’ work in foiling a complex murder plot on the dark web. 

The force was contacted by a BBC journalist in September 2020 after they uncovered a ‘murder for hire’ website on the dark web and identified a high-risk victim living in Milton Keynes. 

Evidence was found of correspondence and payments exchanged through Bitcoin ahead of the intended murder, and officers acted quickly to locate the victim and put them in temporary accommodation.

After being debriefed by officers, the victim said she believed the suspect to be Whitney Franks, a 26-year-old from Newport Pagnell with whom she was involved in a love triangle. 

DC Banfield and PSI Devoy went on to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder solicitation, including house searches, suspect interviews and the creation of a comprehensive case file.

Franks was found guilty of soliciting to commit murder by unanimous jury verdict after a trial at Reading Crown Court in July 2022.

She was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with her sentence later shorted to six years on appeal.

DC Banfield and PSI Devoy were awarded commendations for their “exceptional performance” in foiling the murder plot by Thames Valley Police Constable Jason Hogg this month, March 2024.

Speaking after receiving the award, DC Banfield said: “I’m really pleased that we managed to bring this dangerous offender to justice before she could do any more damage.

“I’m proud that we managed to secure a conviction for such a rarely tried offence.”

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Written by T. Miller

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