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  1. #1
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    Brit Expat Murders Disabled Ex Wife

    Expatriate flew home to strangle housewife, court told

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    By John-Paul Ford Rojas, Press Association, THE INDEPENDENT

    Wednesday, 7 July 2010




    A British expatriate flew home from Thailand to strangle a devoted housewife so her ex-husband could inherit a "pot of gold" of nearly £500,000, a court heard today.

    Sharon Birchwood, 52, was left "cruelly trussed up" with parcel tape and electrical cord on her bed by Paul Cryne, a jury was told.

    Cryne is alleged to have carried out the murder in Ashtead, Surrey, on behalf of Graham Birchwood, who had gone shopping in Epsom at the time.

    He carried out his work with "ruthless efficiency", leaving no fingerprints or any other "obvious clues" and was only caught after a "painstaking" forensic investigation, the Old Bailey heard.

    Birchwood, 54, had found himself heavily in debt and facing bankruptcy after a string of business failures in Thailand, the court was told.

    Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said: "His only hope was if he found a pot of gold, enough money to clear his debts and start over again."

    Jurors were told that he has since been found guilty of the murder. Cryne, 62, who was later extradited from Thailand and is now on trial, denies the charge.

    Mr Dennis said Birchwood was the sole beneficiary of his ex-wife's will, leaving him her £400,000 bungalow and £75,000 in life insurance.

    This would leave "more than enough" to pay off the mortgage and he would be free to return to Thailand, jurors were told.

    But he realised he would fall under suspicion if she were to be killed and needed someone "prepared to do such a deed without being noticed, who could disappear without ever attracting the attention of the police", Mr Dennis said.

    All he had to do was "keep a cool head" and appear to assist the investigation, the court heard.

    "Had it not been for some painstaking forensic work, Birchwood would have got away with this," said Mr Dennis.

    "However careful the killer had tried to be, as it turned out, there was a clue left behind.

    "DNA traces from the right hand of the deceased and the roll of tape used to bind her were recovered and found to match the DNA of this man, the defendant."

    The court heard that Cryne was "a man who for many years had been living in Thailand, part of Birchwood's expat business circle, a man who was also short of money and who was prepared to do such a deed".

    Cryne flew in from Thailand at the end of October 2007 before going to stay with Birchwood at Birchwood's mother's house in Banstead, Mr Dennis said.

    Two days before the killing in December, he left, giving the impression he was going to stay with friends in the West Country but in fact he did not go far and was a short distance from Ashtead, jurors heard.

    Mrs Birchwood was said to have been murdered after returning home from Guildford, and within three hours, Cryne was at Heathrow awaiting a flight back to Thailand the next day, the court was told.

    The victim's ex-husband "tried to cover his tracks" by sending text messages to her on the following two days, before a 999 call the day after that.

    An ambulance crew found Birchwood standing outside the bungalow holding a cup of coffee, before going inside.

    "Fifty-two-year-old Sharon Birchwood was found lying fully clothed on her bed, cruelly trussed up," said Mr Dennis.

    "She had been bound and gagged using a combination of parcel tape and electrical cord. Her ankles had been tightly bound together by tape as had her wrists."

    Mrs Birchwood's wrists had been pulled up to her face and she had been gagged.

    "Electrical cord had been repeatedly wrapped around her head and a small metal handle had been used to tighten those bindings acting in effect as a tourniquet."

    There were no signs that she was killed during a struggle or in a robbery or that there was any sexual motive, the court heard.

    "The victim had been taken completely by surprise in her own home and had been incapacitated almost immediately," said Mr Dennis.

    He said the actions of the killer were those of someone intending to kill Sharon Birchwood, "something which was achieved with ruthless efficiency".

    The court heard that Mrs Birchwood was a "harmless, ordinary person" who had not moved on after divorcing her husband in 1989 and remained "devoted" to him - despite the fact he went on to marry and have two children with his secretary.

    "He, on the other hand, was not so devoted, and he on occasions used her to his own advantage," said Mr Dennis.





    Trial begins over alleged Ashtead murder of Sharon Birchwood

    1:39pm Wednesday 7th July 2010 EPSOM GUARDIAN


    A man who trussed up, bound, gagged and asphyxiated a disabled woman at the request of her ex-husband came from Thailand especially to commit the murder, a court heard.
    Paul Cryne flew in from Thailand and killed Sharon Birchwood a few days later in her bungalow on Harriots Lane, Ashtead, at the request of Graham Birchwood, a jury at the Old Bailey heard.
    Mrs Birchwood, 52, an ME sufferer, was found by paramedics in her bedroom, fully clothed at 1pm on Friday December 7, 2007.
    She had been trussed up, bound and gagged with parcel tape and electrical wire. Her ankles had been tied and there was tape around her neck and head, the court heard.
    The electrical cord had been repeatedly wound around her head and a small metal handle had been used, it appeared, to act as a tourniquet.
    The ligature around her neck and the gagging of her mouth had caused asphyxia, the jury was told.
    She was found by paramedics who were called by her ex-husband.
    The victim’s ex-husband, Birchwood, who was convicted of the murder of Mrs Birchwood in July last year, had business ventures in South East Asia, especially Thailand, where he met his co-conspirator Mr Cryne, the jury heard.
    Prosecutor, Mark Dennis QC, alleged Mr Cryne flew into Britain a few days before the murder on November 26 at Birchwood’s request, and left the country in the morning of December 5, some hours after Mrs Birchwood had been killed.
    He was caught on CCTV at Heathrow Airport and had been staying at the home of Mr Birchwood’s mother at Green Curve, Banstead.
    The court heard how Birchwood received a phone call from Mr Cryne on his mobile at 8.10pm on December 4, to inform him the job had been done, before setting off to Heathrow airport where he stayed overnight waiting for his morning flight.
    Mr Dennis said although no fingerprints were left at the scene, police found Mr Cryne’s DNA on a duvet cover and a piece of tape.
    Mr Cryne was extradited from Thailand and arrived in the UK in August last year.
    The court heard how Birchwood had been in serious debts due to the failure of his business ventures and was at risk of bankruptcy.
    He was, however, the sole beneficiary of Mrs Birchwood’s will, which included the bungalow, valued at £400,000 plus £70,000 from her life insurance, the court heard.
    The bungalow was jointly owned with Mr Birchwood, although they had been divorced for many years.
    Mr Birchwood had put forward ideas for selling the house but she had refused, stressing she enjoyed living there.
    Mr Dennis said: "His only hope for any change to his circumstances was if he found a pot of gold – enough money to allow him to clear his debts and start all over again.
    "But he did not want to take the risk of killing her himself as he realised he would always be a suspect.
    "He needed to get someone else, who would not be noticed after the event and would not attract the attention of the police.
    "All he had to do after that was to keep a cool head and assist the police in their inquiries.
    "It nearly worked for him. Had it not been for some painstaking detective work, he would have got away with it."
    Mr Dennis told the jury Sharon Birchwood had no known enemies.
    "She was a quiet, ordinary person burdened by ill-health and a lack of a real social life, living in rather poor conditions and not having two pennies to rub together," he said.
    "But she lived in a property worth a considerable sum of money."
    Mrs Birchwood was probably caught by surprise at home and was either unconscious or paralysed with fear while Mr Cryne wrapped the tape around her hands and legs, the court heard.
    Mr Dennis said: "The victim seemed to have been taken by surprise and had been incapacitated almost immediately.
    "A postage stamp was still clasped in her right hand. She had not even had time to open her hand and let it go."
    Mr Cryne denies murder

    Paul Cryne Sharon Birchwood

















    Hitman killed woman to get legacy for husband'
    July 07, 2010 Get Surrey http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/20...cy_for_husband


    A HITMAN strangled a frail and ill woman in her own home so her estranged husband could claim her £475,000 legacy, a court was told on Wednesday.
    Paul Cryne left 52-year-old Sharon Birchwood bound and gagged with electrical cord and packing tape on her bed, jurors heard at the Old Bailey.
    They were told that failed businessman Graham Birchwood pretended to discover his wife's dead body at her bungalow in Ashtead three days later, having plotted the murder so he could sell her £400,000 home, claim her £75,000 life insurance and then start a new life abroad.
    The plan was foiled only by “painstaking forensic work” which recovered traces of Mr Cryne’s DNA from Mrs Birchwood’s right hand, it is claimed.
    Mr Cryne, 62, was said to have been one of Mr Birchwood’s business associates in Thailand and had flown to the UK a week before the death.
    Jurors have heard that Birchwood, now 56, has already been convicted of murder and jailed for life.
    The court heard he dialled 999 at 1.30pm on December 7, 2007, to say he had found the dead body of his estranged wife, and paramedics arrived to find him outside the bungalow in Harriotts Lane.
    He claimed he had called in to see Mrs Birchwood on his way to a diabetic clinic and had not seen her for the previous two or three days.
    "Ruthless efficiency"
    Sharon Birchwood was found lying fully clothed on her bed and was “cruelly trussed up”, prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said.
    Parcel tape was wrapped around her ankles and wrists and had also been used as a tight gag over her mouth and face, while electrical cord had been wound around her head and tightened with the small handle of a magnifying glass, the court heard.
    Mr Dennis added: “It soon became clear the violent assault upon Sharon Birchwood had not been the result of a chance encounter with an unknown intruder.
    “There were no signs of forced entry, no sign of any property having been stolen and no sign any drawers or cupboards had been opened. There was no sign of a struggle.
    “The victim had suddenly been taken completely by surprise in her own home and incapacitated almost immediately.
    “These were the actions of someone who had come to the premises to kill Sharon Birchwood, something which was achieved with ruthless efficiency.”
    The jury heard Mrs Birchwood, who suffered from Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), was overpowered so quickly that she was still clutching a postage stamp in her right hand.
    Mr Dennis asked: “Who would have had the motive to kill Sharon Birchwood?”
    “Sharon Birchwood had no enemies, she was a quiet, harmless, ordinary person who muddled along in life burdened by ill health and lacking in social life without two pennies to rub together.”
    Bankruptcy
    But despite her poverty, the bungalow where she had lived for nearly 27 years was worth £400,000, and she had made her husband the sole beneficiary of her will, including the home and life insurance policy, jurors heard.
    Mrs Birchwood remained devoted to her husband even after their divorce, Mr Dennis said.
    “To her dying day she would have done anything for him,” he added.
    “He on the other hand was not so devoted. He on occasions used her to his own advantage and did right up to the end.”
    Graham Birchwood was also said to suffer from ill health, was threatened with bankruptcy and lived a “depressing existence with no prospects for the future".
    The barrister added: “His only hope for a change in circumstances was if he found a pot of gold, enough money to clear his debts and start all over again.
    “He would be free to leave the country and settle with his various business friends and associates in Thailand.”
    Last edited by taxexile; 08-07-2010 at 07:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Taken from Drummonds blog

    Their ‘airport manager ‘was a chap called Paul Cryne, then 55, whom I guess mowed the grass and put up the windsock on a piece of farm land they were using out of town. It certainly was not one of the official airfields in the area.
    Ron had acquired a Brittan-Norman Islander aircraft, but the business went flat after the plane crashed shortly after take-off on one of its early trips. Luckily no-one died. The Thai pilot had taken off on full flaps, something not good if you are trying to attain airspeed.
    Soon the directors of the plane-less company were at each other’s throats. The Skydive Bar which they had opened up in the soi was the scene of some volatile altercations. Robert Henry, a career criminal, was not a happy bunny with his investment up in smoke. The insurance company would only pay half the claim and the plan was in Ron Loveridge’s name.
    Back home in Coventry Henry had switched between credit card fraud and drugs. He was a member of a well known criminal family. His stepson had been charged with murder and he himself was the suspect in the murder of a boxing coach, Joe Montague, who had been gunned down outside his home on the outskirts of the city.
    But in Pattaya, where Robert Henry was about to die, he also had a violent reputation. He had on several occasions beaten up his wife Wilai Chiewcharn and on October 4th 2003 just a few days before his own death he had beaten her up so severely that she had to be hospitalised. He also had many quarrels with local Thais, apparently severely biting the nose of one. 'Baileys'

    (Wilai by the way was known as ‘Baileys’ among the British criminal fraternity, pronouncing it as ‘Byelees’ after the way she ordered her favourite drink).
    Two days after she was hospitalised, Henry’s body was found face down in a swamp in Jomtien. He had been shot six times in the head. A set of motorcycle tracks led a trail away from the scene.
    That’s how I came to know all these characters. Pattaya Police were, as usual and in their own inimitable way ‘hot’ on the case, which involved millions of Thai baht and they quickly pulled in the ‘airport manager’ Paul Cryne as being the most likely suspect.
    Baileys claimed firstly that she had an affair with Cryne and that he was jealous of her husband. Then she claimed that she had received a call from foreigners to say her husband had been kidnapped.
    Paul Cryne

    Thai Police arrested Cryne. They said they had found DNA evidence linking him to Henry’s death in a BMW car which he had sent after the murder to be completely gutted and re-upholstered.
    He seemed an unlikely suspect and the investigation was being conducted in part by a policeman I knew to be extremely suspect and greedy. Meanwhile the wife took over the company and all its assets and the poor ‘ex-SAS man’ Loveridge was left fighting a case in which, to put it the Thai way, the sugar had already entered the elephant’s mouth.
    Cryne pleaded his innocence. He was a trained life-saver and diver, and even had a good citizen’s commendation from the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. He had an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for a 24 hour swim underwater, and he had certificates to show he had saved the lives of scores of people.
    But then again he did finally admit that had been in jail too, for an offence of violence. Cryne did have a temper. Thai police said they believed the murder was orchestrated from England. Certainly a possibility but my money was on the wife.
    Chief Constable's Award

    Pattaya or rather Sattahip police failed to put together a credible case. Police in the UK who knew that Henry’s credit cards were systematically milked after his death, also thought he was probably a ‘patsy’ or ‘fall guy’..
    When I went to Cryne’s trial, few of the long list of prosecution witnesses bothered even to turn up. Not even ‘Byelees’ their star witness. He was acquitted. He’s waiting to see if the prosecution will appeal -although, even if they do not, its not going to get him out of trouble
    The only winner was the wife who got just about everything.

    Gangland Britain in Thailand - A hired assassin in Pattaya at Andrew Drummond

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    The only winner was the wife who got just about everything.
    Standard.

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    Too bad they do not have the death penalty in England!

  5. #5
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    The Thai pilot had taken off on full flaps
    sounds like they chose him because he had a set of wings on his uniform

  6. #6
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    Hitman accused 'stood trial for Thai murder'
    July 30, 2010

    A BUSINESSMAN accused of killing a woman on the orders of her ex-husband has previously been tried for another murder in Thailand, a court has heard.

    Paul Cryne was acquitted of the 2003 killing before he was arrested for the December 2007 murder of 52-year-old Sharon Birchwood at her Ashtead bungalow, jurors were told during his trial on Thursday.

    No further details were given at the Old Bailey of the other murder that Mr Cryne was accused of.

    “He was acquitted of that murder in Thailand,” Judge Jeremy Roberts told jury members.

    “Mr Cryne was anxious that should now come out. Its only relevance is that it does explain some parts of the story you have heard about.”

    The 62-year-old defendant was allowed to leave Thailand in December 2007 after supplying a “bogus reference” by claiming he was trying to set up a business, the court was told.

    It described him as a company safety officer involved in student agency work, but in cross-examination prosecutor Mark Dennis QC suggested it was “just a cloak to disguise why you were really coming to this country".

    Mr Cryne told the barrister to “think what you will” and denies any involvement in the killing of Mrs Birchwood.

    It is claimed he was hired to kill her by debt-ridden former husband Graham Birchwood, a 56-year-old who stood to gain £475,000 on his wife’s death as the sole beneficiary of her will.

    Birchwood has been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

    "Change of plan"

    His ex-wife was found bound with masking tape and strangled with electrical cord on her bed at her Harriotts Lane home on December 7, 2007. It is claimed she was murdered three days earlier.

    Mr Cryne was in the country at the same time but said he was enjoying a holiday in the UK seeing friends and family. He recalled spending most of December 2, 3 and 4 at the Premier Inn hotel in Banstead.

    Mr Dennis said: “This is your trip to England, part of which is a holiday, and you seem to have spent two-and-a-half days doing absolutely nothing except hanging around Banstead.”

    Mr Cryne replied: “One of the reasons I went out of Thailand was to have a break.”

    It was suggested the original plan was to carry out the killing on December 3 but that Graham Birchwood was too ill.

    Mr Dennis added: “Something had gone wrong on the third and there had been a change of plan which was why the murder didn’t take place on the Monday.”

    Jurors heard that the pair were in phone contact as early as 8.22am on the following day.

    The prosecutor suggested that the call was Mr Cryne wanting to find out how Birchwood was and if he was “well enough to carry on with the reason I’m here".

    “This is your speculation,” Mr Cryne replied.

    Jurors have heard that traces of his DNA were found on Mrs Birchwood’s right hand.

    The trial continues.

    getsurrey.co.uk

  7. #7
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    Sounds like a real charmer.

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat baby maker's Avatar
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    Quote''The court heard that Mrs Birchwood was a "harmless, ordinary person" who had not moved on after divorcing her husband in 1989 and remained "devoted" to him - despite the fact he went on to marry and have two children with his secretary.'' Unquote taxexile.

    Read this earlier...have had a little time to think about this...
    something the two morons didn't do.

    Aside from the fact, this was a premeditated murder of a defenceless unsuspecting woman by two lowlife ''real men''.....it's bloody dumb.

    Did these two clowns enter the UK holding hands, it's not made clear, but you get the sense they arrived on the same plane or within a short time of each other.

    One does the killing, while the other waits in an adjoining pub phoning in instructions......and then goes to the police to report the death.....Agatha Christie.....this is not!!!

    The authorities should give them a pass for stupidity.....
    or at very least pen them together.....so they can become intimate over a very long time.

    As one other poster said.....''Charmers''.....they deserve each other...


    The ''TEFLON DON'' was a far better read, and more intriguing.....at least he was cleaning up the neighbourhood.....saving the ''Old Bill'' the effort....and in his own small way doing a public service.

    We can rest easy....what goes round...comes round....to that end, we may be unfortunately without Don expertise in the near future, it remains to seen, he may prove to be a ''alpha'' and be be resilient in his chosen field.

    Thank God we shall never have the pleasure of meeting....
    i am just the nowhere man...
    living in the nowhere land...
    forever...

  9. #9
    Mid
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    Hitman fails in appeal over Birchwood murder
    Guy Martin
    November 11, 2011


    Hitman Paul Cryne has failed to overturn his conviction for murdering Sharon Birchwood in Ashtead in 2007

    A HITMAN who was jailed for life after flying from Thailand to the UK to murder a disabled woman in her Ashtead home has lost a Court of Appeal bid to clear his name.

    ME sufferer Sharon Birchwood, 52, was found dead with her head, wrists and ankles trussed up with packing tape at her Harriotts Lane bungalow home in December 2007.

    In August 2010, British ex-pat Paul Cryne was convicted of the contract killing and jailed for life, with a minimum term of 28-and-a-half years, at the Old Bailey.

    But the 63-year-old continues to protest his innocence and on Friday (November 11) took his case to the Appeal Court in London, where senior judges threw out his challenge to the conviction.

    Prosecutors at the original trial said Cryne had been hired to carry out the killing by Mrs Birchwood's husband, Graham.

    This was achieved with "ruthless efficiency" by Cryne as he took Mrs Birchwood by surprise and incapacitated her almost immediately, jurors were told.

    After being extradited from Thailand he praised the work of the murderer, saying: "Whoever did it did a good job. I take my hat off to them."

    Cryne added: “Someone has got my DNA on that tape. I don’t know how they did it but I think I have been the victim of a DNA transfer.”

    The Manchester-born man, who had lived and worked as a lifeguard in Teignmouth, Devon, before retiring to Thailand, had debts of £11,000 when he was offered cash in return for becoming a hitman, the Old Bailey was told last year.

    Birchwood was also some £150,000 in debt and stood to gain hundreds of thousands of pounds of his wife's assets when she died, the jury heard.

    After police tracked Cryne down to Thailand, they linked him to the killing by a chance DNA match with material found at the scene.

    However, he claimed he had been at Mrs Birchwood's home before, when he had shook her hand and kissed her cheek, and said she had given him packing tape as he did work there.

    Birchwood, who was considered a "hero" by the wife whose killing he ordered, was also previously jailed for life.

    He was convicted separately of murder at Croydon Crown Court while extradition proceedings involving Cryne were taking place.

    In Friday's appeal, Cryne's lawyers argued it was wrong that statements made by Birchwood in an interview with police had been admitted at their client's trial.

    His barrister, Hugh Southey QC, said the prejudicial effect of the statements, admitted without Birchwood being there to be cross-examined, outweighed their usefulness in determining the issues.

    Rejecting the appeal, Lord Justice Pitchford, who sat with Mr Justice Andrew Smith and Mr Justice Popplewell, said the evidence had a "clear probative value on the issue of joint enterprise".

    "In our judgment, this evidence was properly admitted," he continued. "We reject the argument that it was unfairly prejudicial. The verdict was undoubtedly safe and the appeal is dismissed."

    Cryne will have to serve at least 28-and-a-half years behind bars before he can even be considered for release from prison.

    getsurrey.co.uk

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