Victoria Breedan's case is detailed in 24 Hours in Police Custody / Picture Credit: Channel 4
Victoria Breedan's case is detailed in 24 Hours in Police Custody / Picture Credit: Channel 4

Hit Channel 4 series 24 Hours in Police Custody made its return this week with two-part special Black Widow, examining the story of Victoria Breeden who was accused of trying to arrange for the murder of her ex-husband, Rob Parkes.

In last night’s (January 4th 2021) first part, we saw Breeden arrested after her then-boyfriend Graham Wall took a recording to the police that he had made of his partner chatting to Earl Gernon, asking if he knew anybody who would be able to make Parkes “disappear” and enquiring about how much she’d have to hand over to get the job done.

Here’s everything we know about Breeden’s story, which we’ll see conclude on tonight's (January 5th 2021) episode of 24 Hours in Police Custody on Channel 4…

Who is Victoria Breeden and why did she want her ex-husband dead?

Hailing from Cambridgeshire, Victoria Breeden separated from her husband Rob Parkes in 2008, who she first met at university, after four years of marriage. The two shared a daughter, but Parkes was granted sole custody of his child in 2014.

From that point on, Breeden tried to persuade at least three men to kill her husband in the five years that would follow, in an attempt to regain custody of her daughter.

It would be her then-partner Graham Wall who would become the catalyst to her arrest and eventual imprisonment, after he hid a recording device in a cupboard at her home following their split; jealousy that turned into one of the most important parts of this case.

What was heard on the recording?

Victoria Breeden met Earl Gernon on a dating app / Picture Credit: Channel 4
Victoria Breeden met Earl Gernon on a dating app / Picture Credit: Channel 4

In that recording, Breeden can be heard having a casual conversation with Earl Gernon, who she had met on a dating app, about how “costly” it would be to make her ex-husband disappear. She described Parkes as someone who would do anything in his power to make her life a “living hell”.

Police would later discover that she had also accused him of being a paedophile, in further attempts to trigger men into killing him.

Wall took the recording to police in November 2019, despite telling Breeden he had heard everything she’d said before agreeing to destroy the evidence.

Those working on the case had to work out whether or not the conversation would be enough to convict Breeden, quickly coming to the conclusion that they would need more in the eyes of the law to see their ‘Black Widow’ prosecuted.

When questioning Breeden, she would continuously complain about severe back pain, claiming she had a procedure to correct a slipped disc which was pressing on a nerve. Her ex-husband said that this was likely her attempts at regaining control of a situation she could see slipping away from her grasp.

How did the police eventually see Victoria Breeden prosecuted?

Cambridgeshire Police may have been facing one of their toughest cases of all time, but after picking up on a pattern that Breeden hadn’t tried hard enough to conceal, they discovered that Gernon was in fact the third man she had asked about murdering her ex-husband.

This led to their questioning of another ex-partner who had previously been arrested on suspicion of arson, after Parkes’ car was set on fire outside his family home, exploding and causing destruction to the front of his house, which included his young daughter’s bedroom.

From this moment on, it was just a matter of time before investigators discovered Breeden had kept over £20,000 in cash at her home; money that they argued was being kept to pay someone to commit the murder of Parkes.

Victoria Breeden's questioning was caught on camera / Picture Credit: Channel 4
Victoria Breeden's questioning was caught on camera / Picture Credit: Channel 4

How many years did Victoria Breeden get sentenced to?

Mr Justice Chamberlain handed Breeden nine and a half years in prison for soliciting the murder of her ex-husband, after she was found guilty of three counts of the crime. She was cleared of a fourth count of soliciting a fourth man to murder Parkes.

He said at the sentencing in July 2020: "The evidence demonstrates that your main motivation in trying to persuade others to kill Rob Parkes was to regain custody of (a child). It must be obvious to you now that that can't happen.”

Detective Inspector Mike Barnshaw of Cambridgeshire Constabulary added after the conclusion: "This was a five-month long investigation into Breeden's repeated solicitations of men to kill her ex-husband over a number of years.

"Breeden's behaviour was calculating, targeted, persistent and dangerous. It was motivated by her hatred of Mr Parkes and a jury have convicted her on three counts.

"The sentence reflects the gravity of the evidence that highlights Breeden's persistent behaviour and repeated attempts to have Mr Parkes killed.

"This conviction will hopefully give some peace of mind to the victim and takes a dangerous individual off the streets of Cambridgeshire."

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