A 26-year-old Canberra woman has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly arranging and paying for the killing of her parents over the dark web.
ACT Policing said their investigation began in October after they received a report from a journalist based in the United Kingdom, who said they had found evidence a person had paid online for the targeted killing of two people.
Police allege the woman agreed to pay $20,000 for the murders in September, and had paid $6,000 towards that sum.
They arrested the woman on Monday while executing a search warrant at a Fadden residence, where they also seized computer equipment.
She appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court today and was charged with two counts each of attempted murder and incite murder, one count of burglary and one count of theft, after allegedly stealing $15,000 from her parents in September.
Police said they believed the woman was motivated by financial gain.
Police allege woman made payment to ‘fraudulent’ website
ACT Policing Acting Sergeant Beth McMullen said no harm had come to the two people targeted in the alleged transaction, who the court heard were prominent Canberra business owners.
It also heard the identity of the alleged offender would be suppressed to protect her parents’ identity.
Police allege the woman also gave details about the individuals targeted to help with the killings.
“We were able to obtain information to suggest that a payment was paid over the dark web,” Acting Sergeant McMullen said.
“Police believe the actual site itself is fraudulent, however we needed to be very conscious of the frame of mind of the person who made the payment and what that person might be looking at doing in the future.
“ACT Policing acted quickly to ensure there was no threat to the safety of the victims in this matter.”
The investigation was conducted in collaboration with international police authorities.
“This was a complex investigation due to the report originating overseas, and being able to track and verify the dark web payment,” Acting Sergeant McMullen said.
“ACT Policing liaised with international police authorities to seek further evidence to lead to yesterday’s search warrant and arrest.”
She said police did not know where the website’s creators were based or who had accepted the payment.
She described the crime as “very unusual”.
“This is not a matter that has cropped up in the ACT previously,” she said.
Victims ‘understandably concerned’
Acting Sergeant McMullen said the woman’s parents had no knowledge of the alleged crime prior to police informing them.
“They were unaware that this had happened and they cooperated fully with us,” she said.
“The victims were very shocked and understandably concerned.”
No-one else is expected to be charged in relation to the crime.
Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter marked the defendant as a prisoner at risk as she has a history of suicidal ideation.
The woman did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody.
The matter will return to court in December.