Dr David Crichton was acquitted by a jury of trying to solicit the murder of Andrew Bolden, a pension and wealth investment adviser at the private bank Brown Shipley, in February 2017.
Winchester Crown Court heard that the 64-year-old, of Bournemouth, Dorset, accessed the “Chechen mob” website on the dark web and selected an order to “kill the b*****d” – with the equivalent of $5,000 (£3,800) to be paid in bitcoin.
However, he did not complete the payment.
Crichton, who suffers from depression, told the court he completed the form on the website to “clear his head” as part of research to get rid of suicidal thoughts, but did not intend for the hit to actually take place.
Although he was cleared of attempting to solicit the murder of Mr Bolden, Crichton was convicted of three malicious communication charges.
These involved two text messages and a telephone call in which the prosecution said Crichton threatened to commit suicide.
Crichton partially blamed Mr Bolden for causing him to lose £1m of his pension fund, but the finance regulator found he was given the correct advice, the court heard.
Simon Jones, prosecuting, said Crichton sent hundreds of emails, causing his address to be blocked, then sent a text message to Mr Bolden on 4 February 2017, saying: “I am contacting you out of desperation, I believe you are the only person who can help save my life.”
Mr Jones said Crichton then called Mr Bolden and claimed his life was at risk, before sending another message on 4 March 2017, saying: “I remain desperate to speak to you and since you know my life is at risk I can’t believe you are obstructing me in this.”
The court was told that the prosecution would be seeking an injunction against Crichton, preventing him from contacting Mr Bolden or any other staff at Brown Shipley.
The judge, Mr Justice Dingemans, adjourned sentencing to a later date to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report on Crichton.