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Michael Butler, of Chatham, jailed for six years for trying to recruit a hitman

By Paul Hooper

A man has been jailed for six years after trying to recruit a “hitman” to deal with a family issue.

Michael Butler, 45, had fallen out with the boyfriend of his step-daughter and told a pal he wanted him “taken out” or given such a kicking “he was no longer a pretty boy.”

In a bizarre twist, he offered cash to the alleged hitman “to make someone disappear into the River Medway permanently".

Michael Butler of Chatham (8601316)
Michael Butler of Chatham (8601316)

But the man he tried to hire, Peter Vincent, recorded the interview and immediately alerted police.

During the conversation, Butler added that as an alternative to murder, he wanted the target Ross Attwood given “a good hiding” and spoke of him being put inside a burning car, the court heard.

Butler, who appeared in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court using crutches, was told by the judge that he was “arrogant”.

As he was led away, the victim and Butler’s family swapped insults – and were warned by Judge Adele Williams they could be held in contempt of court.

“Butler said at the very least he wanted Ross battered so much he would be in intensive care...” Philip Bennetts QC

She told Butler, of Heathfield Close, Chatham: “You have shown no remorse.”

The jury heard how Butler told Mr Vincent “I’ve got a problem...and it needs to be dealt with” and gave him a photograph of his target and his address.

Butler was found guilty of assisting in the commission of encouraging Peter Vincent to carry out a murder or causing grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said that two years ago the target of the “hit”, Mr Attwood was in a relationship with Butler’s step-daughter.

Judge Adele Williams (7642461)
Judge Adele Williams (7642461)

But the two fell out and Butler then turned to Mr Vincent, a man he knew through the sale of tobacco.

Butler had said: “I’ve got a problem with Ross. I want him beaten. I want him taken out of the equation," before adding that he wanted Mr Attwood “completely disappeared” because he hated him “with a passion”.

Mr Attwood, Butler claimed, was preventing him from seeing his grandchild.

Mr Bennetts added: “He said he wanted Ross gone and suggested Peter Vincent put him in a river. By this he assumed Butler was asking him to kill Ross and ‘to make him disappear and dispose of him in the River Medway’.

Maidstone Crown Court (7931056)
Maidstone Crown Court (7931056)

“Butler said at the very least he wanted Ross battered so much he would be in intensive care.”

Mr Vincent, alerted police and taped a conversation with Butler, when they discussed Butler would pay anything from ‘a monkey’ (£500 to £650) but from £1,000 to £2,000 if he was able to make Mr Attwood disappear.

“Butler gave him a photograph of Ross and Mr Vincent then left. He had no intention of carrying out the request," he added.

In a recording, played to the jury, Butler is asked by Mr Vincent what he wanted him to do.

Butler replies: “I want him out of the picture permanently, yeah."

Butler was convicted of a charge brought under the 2007 Serious Crime Act of encouraging or assisting the commission of one or more offences, believing one or more would be committed.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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