A MAN who plotted the contract killing of his former gay lover and business partner has been jailed for at least 30 years.
Car dealer and drug manufacturer Christopher Hartley was found with gunshot wounds to the head and chest on a quiet country road in Huddersfield last September after David Large, 36, (pictured) recruited his close friend Simon Mullen, 39, to carry out the brutal murder.
Yesterday the pair, who will both serve a minimum of 30 years, showed no emotion as the jury found them both guilty of murdering Mr Hartley at the end of a 36-day trial at Bradford Crown Court.
Judge James Goss QC told the duo, who had become friends while in prison, that it had been a “calculated, cold-blooded and brutal crime” which involved efforts to make it look as if the killing had been the result of a drugs deal gone wrong.
Mr Hartley (pictured) was found gunned down in Litherop Lane, Clayton West.
Before Judge Goss passed sentence, he heard details of the devastating effect that Mr Hartley's death had had on his family.
The court heard that his mother Vera knew little about Mr Hartley’s activities and saw him as her “treasured son”.
Brother Steven Hartley said in a victim impact statement that his mother had treated Large as a “fourth son” and the family would have to live with his betrayal of them for the rest of their lives.
“'David and Chris were always together. Indeed he had been part of this family for many, many years,” said Mr Hartley.
“We trusted him as he was Chris’ closest friend.
“David Large sat in her living room after Chris had died and pretended to grieve with our mum. He told us he was helping the police all he could.
“He lied to the police and he lied to us about what had happened that night.
“We now have to live with this awful betrayal for the rest of our lives.”
During the murder investigation police searched Mr Hartley’s five-bedroom detached home at Haigh Wood Lodge, Batley Road, Tingley, and discovered a drugs factory operating from a bungalow in the grounds.
As well as a cement mixer and a pill press, officers also found almost 20,000 real ecstasy tablets.
The prosecution alleged that Mr Hartley was infatuated with Large and that the defendant wanted him killed so that he could continue his relationship with Netherton woman Dawn Mallinson.
The court heard how Large and Mullen (pictured) discussed the murder plot over Facebook and on the day of the killing Large travelled to London to arrange his alibi.
Former off-shore worker Mullen shot Mr Hartley twice at close range, probably with a sawn-off shotgun, after he was lured to Litherop Lane, Clayton West, on the pretext of a drugs deal.
Large returned to Mr Hartley's home later that night and took an estimated £100,000 in cash from his safe which was later spilt equally with his friend Mullen.
Unemployed Mullen then went on a £25,000 spending spree buying expensive televisions, a music system and getting repairs done to his treasured Mitsubishi Evo car.
After the jury returned their guilty verdicts it was revealed that when Mullen was just 17 he was convicted of manslaughter relating to an incident involving a vehicle taken without consent.
Judge Goss told Large that the primary motive for the killing had been his desire to be rid of the controlling and dominating influence of Mr Hartley.
The judge said the significant degree of planning and the use of a firearm meant that a minimum term of 30 years was appropriate in each case before they could be considered for release by the Parole Board.