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Obsessive seeks hitman online, court hears

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An obsessed man offered £100,000 on a Web site for the murder of a woman he had met online, a court heard yesterday.

Paul Clark began exchanging emails with American Brandy Arnett after she advertised for an email pen pal.

The 32-year-old electronics engineer from Portsmouth quickly became obsessed with his American pen pal. Within weeks he had proposed and offered to fly to Texas so they could start a family, even though they had never met.

When Brandy told him she was already married he "exploded," the jury was told. He emailed Brandy, threatening to kill her, saying: "You have signed your own death warrant. I have contacts in the US who will gladly carry out the task of terminating you."

He is alleged to have put up an offer of £100,000 for her murder, saying payment would be dispatched upon receipt of photographic evidence of her death.

When Arnett sent him photographs of herself and her husband on their wedding day, he used the material to set up another Web site, offering £25,000 to anyone who "terminated" the couple.

When questioned by the police, Clark said that the emails and web sites were a joke. He denies making threats to kill and soliciting to murder. The trial continues in Winchester. ®

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