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Melbourne, Jan 28: A new research into British hitmen has found that in some cases victims were murdered for as little as 200 pounds.

The first typological study of British hitmen identified four main types of contract killer; the novice, the dilettante, the journeyman; and the master.

"Hitmen are familiar figures in films and video games, carrying out 'hits' in underworld bars or from the roof tops with expensive sniper rifles," Professor David Wilson from Birmingham City University's Centre for Applied Criminology, said.

"The reality could not be more different. British hitmen are more likely to murder their victim while they walk the dog or go shopping in suburban neighborhoods," he said.

The team analyzed newspaper articles from an electronic archive of national and local papers from across Britain, using the reports to piece together a list of cases which could be defined as contract killings.

The final list comprised of 27 contract killings, committed by 35 hitmen, and one hitwoman, active on the British mainland from 1974 to 2013.

"Using court transcripts and off-the-record interviews with ex-offenders we were able to identify recurring traits and patterns of behaviors amongst British hitmen," Professor Wilson said.

"We explored demographic data about the contract killers, who the targets had been, how they had been murdered, if the killer had been caught, if the killer was already known to the police, and how much they had been paid to carry out the hit," he said.

While the age of hitmen ranged from 15 to 63, the average age of a British contract killer was 38, while the average age of their victim was 36. Guns were the most common murder weapon of choice, accounting for 25 of the 35 victims.

The cost of ordered murder in Britain was also found to vary considerably, with the average cost standing at 15,180 pounds. The lowest fee in the sample was a mere 200 pounds, in contrast to the highest fee of 100,000 pounds.

Far from being carried out in smoky underworld clubs, the majority of hits took place in suburban neighborhoods, often as the victim was walking their dog or going shopping. Often the hitman and their victim lived in the same area, which is one of the most common reasons behind their eventual arrest.

The study has been published in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. (ANI)

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