A man has been arrested after allegedly plotting to get a hitman to disfigure his former girlfriend with acid and assault her so she would be left wheelchair-bound.
The 40-year-old suspect, who is an IT expert and worked for a large company, has reportedly been charged with attempted grievous bodily harm and stalking.
Italian police said the man, from Lombardy, had already made a down payment in Bitcoin and the “nightmare” plot was in the final stages before it was thwarted after being “intercepted” on the dark web.
According to news agency AGI, quoting a court document, the hitman was supposed to receive a total of nearly 10,000 euros (£8,600).
Police said they started investigating in February, after being alerted via Interpol by colleagues from another European nation who had first spotted suspicious conversations on the dark web.
Officers in Rome called the plan something out of “a contemporary thriller movie” and said it was the first time they had stopped a gender violence crime plotted on the internet.
An Italian police statement said: “From the investigations it emerged the man had planned the attack in detail.
“Masking his identity, the principal had asked an ‘intermediary’ to hire a hitman, so that a woman, in Italy, would be scarred with acid and confined to a wheelchair.
“For this service the man had already made the first of some payments in Bitcoin.
“So the intermediary had put him in contact with the hitman who undertook to complete the assignment in a short time.”
The identities of the suspect and his former girlfriend, who was unharmed, have not been confirmed by authorities.