AN OBSESSED wife who tried to hire a hitman to kill her husband so she could "unwrap" the man she loved for Christmas has been jailed for five years.
Mr Justice Roderick Evans jailed accounts clerk Karen Quinton, 44, despite hearing that her coach driver husband Alan, 59, has forgiven her and wants her home.
Describing Mr Quinton's forgiveness as "unique", the judge told her: "Whether it is as a result of your manipulation of him I do not know and I cannot comment. But if the reconciliation is genuine you are indeed a fortunate woman."
The couple, who met 22 years ago and have been married for 12, moved to Cambridgeshire from their home in Tunstall Drive, Accrington, two years ago.
Quinton admitted soliciting an undercover policeman, who she believed was a professional hitman, to murder her husband, a former driver for Blythe's Chemicals, at Norwich Crown Court last month.
She offered to pay him £15,000 of the £250,000 profit she hoped to make from inheritance and insurance policies after her husband's death.
The plan was for Mr Quinton to be run down on a Fenland crossroads as he walked his dog and for it to be made to look like an accident.
The key to the plot was her obsession with one of her husband's workmates, Andrew Brett, 29, said prosecuting counsel, John Farmer QC.
Nothing sexual ever developed between them and Mr Brett wanted an end to her pestering.
When she began to suggest she wanted her husband dead, he went to the police, who put undercover officer "Dave" in place. Damning conversations were later recorded.
Michael Hubbert QC, for Quinton, said she accepted "sole culpability" for the plot to murder her husband but told the judge: "It's idle to suggest there isn't another side to this."
He said: "Her perception was that Mr Brett wanted this to happen. It's perfectly plain that he did not want it to happen but she believed at the time from her muddled thinking that he did."
He told the judge that her state of mind was "governed by her infatuation" and insisted she had never had any intention to go through with the murder plot.
Mr Quinton has been quoted as saying he has forgiven her and "loves her to bits", and presented to the judge a copy of his will made since his wife's imprisonment, making her the sole beneficiary of his estate.
He added that she would never harm anyone and he had even bought her a new wedding ring. He had visited her twice a week in prison for the last 10 months.
Jailing Quinton, Mr Justice Evans, said five years was the least he could impose, even in light of the guilty pleas, her husband's continued forgiveness and her continued insistence that she never intended to go ahead with the murder.
The couple have two children, 22-year-old university graduate, Louise, who was in court with her father, and a 19-year-old son in the Royal Marines.