Former Leeds college lecturer told police woman over Facebook that he hired a hitman to kill her

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A former Leeds college lecturer harassed a police officer after she was involved in his arrest, later telling her on Facebook that he had hired a hitman to kill her.

Darren McGuinness said he was a “man of faith” and would be permitted to kill the woman if anything happened to his dog, Sammy, which was taken away after he was arrested for an unrelated matter.

The dog was found in a poor condition, was underweight, blind, hard of hearing and had no water. The decision was later taken by a vet to put the dog to sleep due to its poor health.

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Following his arrest, McGuinness made threats to the officer, saying he would kill her “under the wheels of a car”, called her a “miserable c***” and told her it would be “worth going to prison for the rest of his life”.

McGuinness told the officer over Facebook that he had hired a hitman for her. (pic by Adobe / National World)McGuinness told the officer over Facebook that he had hired a hitman for her. (pic by Adobe / National World)
McGuinness told the officer over Facebook that he had hired a hitman for her. (pic by Adobe / National World)

After he was released from custody, the 49-year-old posted a picture of the female on Facebook with the word “gotcha”. He said he knew where her family lived and that he had been on the “dark web” to order a hit man for her.

Other photos included him with his dog, a doll with a grenade and a masked man with a firearm, which prosecutor Richard Walters told Leeds Crown Court gave an “overall impression which was quite sinister”.

He was arrested again June 17 and admitted posting the messages, but claimed they were all done “in the heat of the moment” and apologised. He later admitted a charge of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment.

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McGuinness, of Helston Road, Middleton, has 21 convictions for 38 offences, including possessing offensive weapons, driving while banned, assault and possession of drugs.

Mitigating, Martin Morrow said McGuinness had been in custody since June 19. He said he lives a “solitary existence” and his only real friend had been his dog and was “devastated” when he was put to sleep.

He said: “His behaviour towards the officer was completely unacceptable and he was wrong. He apologises through me for his behaviour. At the time he did not consider the consequences of his actions. He accepts it was wholly unacceptable.”

Mr Morrow said McGuinness has a degree in engineering and was a lecturer who worked at Leeds College of Building. But he suffered a serious spinal injury which forced him to give up work and he turned to drugs, which “spiralled” out of control.

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Mr Morrow added: “He does not seek to make any excuses. In hindsight, he concludes what he did was totally inappropriate and deeply regrets it.”

Judge Penelope Belcher said the decision to have the dog put down was the vets and had nothing to do with the police officer.

She told him: “You made threats that were designed to make her fear they were true. Everything she did was lawful. As an educated man you must have realised that. It was frightening, unacceptable and wholly inappropriate. The issue here is alcohol and drugs.”

She gave him an eight-month sentence, suspended for 24 months, a three-month electronic tag curfew, 25 rehabilitation days and a 10-year restraining order to keep him away from the police officer. He was also banned from deleting his internet history.