A retired GP accused of trying to use a hitman-for-hire website to murder his financial advisor today claimed he had no intention of killing him – and only entered his details as a mental exercise.
Dr David Crichton said his ‘life collapsed’ after he lost around £300,000 from his £1.8million pension pot following dealings with pensions and personal wealth advisor Andrew Bolden.
The court heard last week that he made a series of complaints about Mr Bolden, but when he felt they were not dealt with properly he sent a series of messages to the financial advisor threatening to kill himself.
The retired family GP also downloaded a dark web browser, which he then used to access a ‘Chechen Mob’ website, where people could hire hitmen, the court heard last week when proceedings began.
The court was told the site offered four options when searching for a hitman, including a ‘kill the bastard’ choice – which is what Crichton is said to have selected after entering Mr Bolden’s details.
He was only caught when British police, who were coincidentally investigating the website, discovered Mr Boden listed in the files as a potential target.
Opening the case at Winchester Crown Court, Hampshire, last week, prosecutor Simon Jones told jurors Dr Crichton had waged a ‘campaign of contact’ against Mr Bolden, believing it was the financial advisor’s fault for his money problems.
However, investigations revealed the advisor from top banking firm Brown Shipley acted correctly.
The 64-year-old doctor told a court today he ‘fell to pieces’ and was diagnosed with depression and was also considered a ‘high risk for suicide’.
Winchester Crown Court, Hampshire, has heard Dr Crichton didn’t pay the $5,000 fee for the ‘hit’ and today he said if he did indeed want to pay ‘it would have been extremely easy’ as he is ‘very wealthy’.
Dr Crichton also told the court he has ‘obsessive tendencies’ and became obsessed with the internet – spending around 15 hours a day browsing up to 600 websites.
Today Dr Crichton said he visited the site and entered the details as a ‘guinea pig’ to ‘clear his head’.
The father-of-three, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: ’I was looking as a medical professional, as a guinea pig for a test to see if this would clear my head.’
The retired doctor said a large part of his career was research and he had recently read about a form of therapy where recipients are encouraged to write down or type out negative thoughts before throwing them away or deleting them, thereby improving wellbeing.
Dr Crichton claimed he ‘knew the hitman site was a scam’ and entered Mr Bowden’s name to ‘throw away’ his negative thoughts.
He said: ‘I do accept that I put his details in the website because it was this idea of ”throwing away a thought”.
‘I’m a research doctor and I thought it would be good to research – and actually, it made me feel better. I wanted to know if this was a good avenue to pursue to help people with suicidal thoughts.
‘First of all I thought this was a scam and secondly I didn’t pay any money, I was sure there was no risk to Andrew, I knew he was safe. I didn’t think I had solicited his murder, it’s totally ludicrous really and unbelievable.’
He said if he wanted to pay the $5,000 he could have done so. He claimed he has lost £1 million – however, only £300,000 of this relates to the offences he is in court for.
He said: ‘I was very wealthy and had lost or misappropriated about a million pounds, but I was still very wealthy. It would have been extremely easy to obtain $5,000, very easy indeed.’
He also said: ‘I’ve got obsessive tendencies and Aspergers-like tendencies, it’s been helpful in my career and in sport.
‘Overnight my life collapsed [after meeting with Mr Bolden]. I got a call from my accountant who said there is a major problem and after I met with them I fell to pieces.
‘I tried to keep seeing patients and keep working but I had fallen to pieces and had to take four weeks off.
’I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist since 2013, the diagnosis is treatment-resistant depression. I’ve had every treatment there is, I’ve had about 30 different medicines, I’ve had electro-convulsive therapy and hypnosis.
‘Some of the tablets have had severe side effects and nearly killed me, one of them caused me to have a stroke.’
Dr Crichton was asked about the messages he sent to Mr Bolden and disputes the prosecution’s claims they are ‘threatening’.
He told the court that in January 2017 – around a month before the alleged offences – he had a bike accident, which affected his ‘thinking’.
‘I contacted the company to help my head, I wanted to speak to them honestly about what happened, I was never threatening or abusive.
‘I didn’t leave it alone because I had fallen to pieces, I didn’t want to give up on my family, this was not the retirement I planned at all.
‘I thought if I could just talk to to Andrew I could understand things, I tried to arrange a meeting with a mediator which I offered to pay for.’
While discussing his internet habits, he said: ‘I had become obsessed with the internet, I spend all day – about 15 hours a day – on the internet and I look at 300 to 600 sites a day.’
When he was quizzed by prosecutor Simon Jones about why he downloaded the dark web he said: ‘I spend 12 to 15 hours a day looking on Google and I thought I had exhausted all websites.
‘I thought I would have a look at it as there was another world out there that I could access, I didn’t know about the dark web like I do now and it’s got me in a lot of trouble.’
When asked why he put Mr Bolden’s name into the site he said: ‘I put it in there to clear my head, I’m a Christian and have no ill-feelings towards Andrew, my whole life has been about trying to help people.’
But the prosecutor asked him: ‘If you wanted to clear your head why didn’t you open up a Word document and write down these thoughts? The only way you would get closure is by killing him.’
Dr Crichton, who used to serve in the Royal Air Force, denies one count of attempting to solicit a murder and three of sending malicious communications.
The trial continues.