Man hired professional hitman to kill him so son could claim £7m insurance money

A high-society prosecutor has been arrested after hiring a hitman to kill him so his son could claim the life insurance money.

Alex Murdaugh, 53, planned to hand over the $10m (£7.25m) life insurance pay-out to his surviving son Buster and hired a pro hitman to shoot him in the head.

He was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, The Times reported..

The well-connected lawyer, from a long line of South Carolina prosecutors, suffered a breakdown and developed a drug addiction after the murders of his wife and other son.

Wife Margaret, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot near their home.

Murdaugh has maintained he had no role in the fatal shootings, whose perpetrator remains at large.

Paul was facing criminal charges at the time of his death for a 2019 drunk boating accident in which a woman died.

Murdaugh's ploy failed when he was found lying by the side of the road with "superficial" bullet wounds to the side of his head.

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The lawyer had hired a hitman to shoot him in the head and make it look like a drive-by shooting.

Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was identified as the would-be hitman.

A former client of Murdaugh's, he now faces charges of assault and battery, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, assisted suicide and possession of drugs.

Murdaugh's defence lawyer Dick Harpootlian told the South Carolina court this was because Murdaugh believed his suicide would make the $10m inaccessible to Buster.

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That was incorrect.

Mr Harpootlian told NBC News: “He called this guy [Mr Smith] who met him on the side of the road and agreed to shoot him in the head.

"It was an attempt, on his part, to do something to protect his child.”

The judge offered a $20k bail for Murdaugh's release on Thursday and gave him time out of prison to seek help for his opioid addiction.

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