“KEEP the cash. You can trust me,” Matthias Brandt assured the hitman he knew only as Ryan.

“I’m not changing my mind.”

The 43-year-old had just met the contract killer in Costa Coffee at the Swindon Designer Outlet, where he handed over £300 as down payment for a murder kit: a pistol, stun gun, rope and a dismembering knife.

It was a Friday. March 22. By the close of the next weekend, spurned fiancé Brandt hoped to have kidnapped his ex, killed her and cut up her body.

His plan failed.

“Ryan” was an undercover police officer. Their bizarre encounter in the busy retail outlet was captured on camera. And little more than 24 hours later Brandt was in a cell at Gablecross police station.

Yesterday, the Park South man – who has previous convictions for owning stun guns and stalking - was jailed for seven years and eight months at Bristol Crown Court. He will serve an extended four years and four months on licence.

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Matthias Brandt

What happened?

Matthias Brandt met Zofie Jarosova in late 2018 in Prague. They enjoyed a whirlwind romance that started in the city’s Hotel Paris. He proposed, buying a £999 ring from jeweller’s H Samuel.

But the relationship soon soured. Ms Jarosova was said to have accused him of cheating on her, which he denied. She returned to Prague with the ring.

A friend of Ms Jarosova’s contacted Brandt and told him his fiancée had been arrested in the USA and needed him to pay her $500 bail. When he did, he was told it was not enough and they needed more cash. He grew suspicious and reported the incident to Action Fraud in early February.

Brandt obsessed over tracing his ex, spending more than £3,200 hiring private investigators with whom he kept in close contact. He claimed Ms Jarasova was an escort – an accusation she denies.

One of the private eyes contacted Ms Jarosova, posing as a businessman, and attempted to set up a honeytrap meeting with her in Prague - but she never showed. Receipts suggested Brandt had travelled to Minsk, Belarus, around the time of the honeytrap – making the trip back to the UK via Kiev.

'I want some retribution'

As his investigators tried to set up a meeting with Zofie, Brandt trawled the web for knives and was put in contact with a hitman he knew only as Ryan.

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Brandt trawled the web for knives Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Meeting him at Costa Coffee, Brandt told Ryan he planned to ambush his ex, kill her and then dismember her body.

Zofie was “no angel”. Brandt added: “The f***ing b**** has f****ed me over and I want some f***ing retribution.” The spurned lover showed Ryan Adver clippings of a 2012 court case detailing how he he had stalked an ex. 

He agreed to pay as down payment £300 – half of the amount it would cost to hire the weapons.

The hitman checked Brandt definitely wanted to go ahead with the hire, as the weapons would need to be trafficked from Holland. Brandt said he did: "You can trust me."

That night Brandt swapped more messages with his private eyes and hoped to confront Zofie the following weekend. But he was arrested the next day on Marlborough Road, Swindon.

He initially denied involvement. When he was told the hitman he had met was an undercover cop, Brandt claimed he was training to be a private investigator and had set up the meeting with Ryan in an attempt to expose him.

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Swindon Designer Outlet


Having already admitted making threats to kill, Brandt, formerly of Horsham Road, pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial to encouraging or assisting the aiding and abetting of murder.

Defending, Peter Binder said his client had suffered from long-standing issues with anxiety and depression. That had been worsened by the death of his mother around a year before he had plotted to kill his fiancée.

In a letter to the court, Brandt’s sister said their mother’s death had “destroyed” him: “He doesn’t know when to stop. He’s broken. He needs to stand up and ask for help.”

There was evidence that Brandt was now open to receiving mental health support, Mr Binder said.

Judge's comments

Judge Peter Blair QC said he had no hesitation in concluding Brandt passed the threshold to be ruled a dangerous offender.

Sentencing him, the judge said: “You were explicit in your desire to not only shoot [Ms Jarasova] dead but to dismember her and, if as you suspected she had a pimp because you had it in mind she was some form of escort, that you would kill him.

“The language you used to that undercover officer made it very plain just how extraordinarily hostile your intention was towards her and you confirmed your intention to pursue that course by paying him £300 down payment for provision of the murder kit."

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Bristol Crown Court

The judge added: “You substantially pre-meditated her murder and that of a person you thought may be controlling her.

“You were determined. You were obsessive.

“It potentially included sadistic conduct towards her and there was this threat potentially of a second victim.”

As he was taken from the dock, Brandt appeared to go back on his guilty pleas. He told the court: “I’m not guilty of count three. I didn’t plan to murder anyone.”