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American 'tried to hire Three Micks hitmen'.

A desperate American businessman facing bankruptcy tried to hire Irishmen, dubbed the Three Micks, to murder his former associates - and then confessed, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

Hans Johnston (72) wanted revenge after losing control of his company in court actions.

He was ordered to pay $1.6 million (pounds 1 million) costs and faced a further $26 million (pounds 17 million) claim, said Mr John Kelsey-Fry, prosecuting.

Both his former partner, Swiss national Mr Miklos Vendel and a female director Ms Margaritha Werren were due to give evidence against him in those proceedings.

He allegedly believed he would face further mud-slinging and the case would be heard by a biased judge.

Mr Kelsey-Fry said: "He was in a desperate state and recognised it. He resorted to a radical solution - he decided to have them killed."

Johnston, from Stanford, Connecticut, has denied soliciting Mr Louis Keats to murder the pair between November 1997 and April 1998.

Johnston was living in London at the time and was introduced to a Mr Keats - who was apparently part of a management services company, said Mr Kelsey-Fry.

Mr Keats introduced Johnston to a group of men "said to be part of an organisation based in Dublin" - known as the Three Micks.

Johnston allegedly flew to Ireland using a false name. The initial contract agreed was pounds 100,000 and half was delivered in cash, said Mr Kelsey-Fry.

Johnston decided he did not just want them killed, but interrogated in a bid to get access to funds. It was agreed the Irish men should share some of any proceeds - but Johnston feared a double-cross, the prosecution added.

"Because of that he then made a fatal error. He decided to write down what he had done - a confession - put it in a sealed envelope and give it to a friend for safe-keeping," said Mr Kelsey-Fry.

In it, he accused the pair of manufacturing evidence which had caused him massive losses.

"I therefore decided to be certain that Vendel and Werren would not be able to enjoy the fruits of their thefts and to eliminate both individuals," it allegedly states.

The trial continues.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 21, 1999
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