IT was an assassination, an execution, a crime so shocking and horrific that it's unprecedented in the Hunter.
It involved a hitman hired to undertake a contract killing.
But the target was not a bikie gang member or an underworld figure, it was an innocent grandmother, a 61-year-old Stockton swimming teacher, whose only crime was trying to protect her daughter and grandson from a "manipulative" and "evil" drug dealer.
When Stacey Klimovitch was shot dead after answering her front door in Queen Street, Stockton about 8pm on June 9, 2021, those who heard about it thought it had to be a case of mistaken identity. The killer must have shot the wrong person.
In fact, Mrs Klimovitch had been the victim of a "targeted" and "premeditated" murder masterminded by her former son-in-law, Stuart Campbell, over an ongoing and ugly dispute between the pair.
Campbell had the motive and orchestrated the murder plot, recruiting former Nomad bikie Stephen John Garland to be the getaway driver.
Campbell was charged with murder, but died in jail before facing trial.
But who was the shooter, the man in Queen Street that night who was willing to execute a complete stranger on her front doorstep?
Who was Campbell's Sicario Soldado, as he had put it in a text message, misspelling one of the words, which loosely translate to "hitman soldier".
Prosecutors and Strike Force Backhouse detectives said it was Canberra man Jason Paul Hawkins, 48, who had travelled up to Newcastle twice in the days before the murder, brought with him a shotgun and done Campbell's bidding.
They said Hawkins had lied to police about where he had been on the night of the shooting, was tight with Campbell and had been seen with a red hat, similar to the one the killer was wearing on CCTV in Stockton.
They said he had not driven up to Newcastle to complete roofing work and drop off a large quantity of methamphetamine, as Hawkins claimed. But instead the work he was doing for Campbell was assassinating Mrs Klimovitch.
And, crucially, they said he had been captured on CCTV outside a house at Heddon Greta getting into the passenger seat of a Holden Commodore bound for Stockton on the night of the murder.
Hawkins was shown the footage after his arrest in the ACT and even admitted to police that the man getting into the car was him.
"Yeah I'll say I was there, that is me," Hawkins said.
He told a story about seeing a person getting out of another car armed with a firearm and said he had "wigged out", ran into bushland and hid.
And he claimed while the shooting was happening he was walking some 18 kilometres along John Renshaw Drive and the Hunter Expressway towards Argenton.
Prosecutors labelled his story "implausible", pointed out it was full of holes and argued his version had been tailored to suit the evidence in the prosecution case.
And on Wednesday, after deliberating for about three days, the jury agreed, finding Hawkins was the hitman who called out "Stacey" in Queen Street that night and then seconds later shot her at close range.
He was found guilty of murder, meaning the jury must have rejected his version and been left with no doubt he was Campbell's Sicario Soldado.
Outside, Mrs Klimovitch's family spoke of the "rollercoaster" that was the last few years and their mum, who they said was "larger-than-life" and "Stockton's grandmother".
"She changed a lot of kids' lives by teaching them to swim," daughter Alexandra Klimovitch said. "She'd just help anyone. She was kind and smart and generous. She would've been the best grandma ever. Nothing like that should ever happen to anyone. And I'm glad [Hawkins] is gonna burn for what he did."
They called Hawkins evidence about getting out of the car "far-fetched" and "insulting".
It's unclear how much, if anything, Hawkins was paid by Campbell for killing Mrs Klimovitch.
The only thing police could uncover was that Campbell paid Hawkins's car registration the day after the shooting so he could travel back to Canberra.
Hawkins was also a heavy ice user and Campbell had been his dealer around the time of the murder. Any details about what he offered the gunman went with Campbell to the grave.
As soon as her mother was killed, Alexandra Klimovitch knew Campbell was involved.
She even told police that night that she suspected he was responsible.
But Campbell had made sure he had an alibi, going through the drive-thru at Edgeworth McDonald's around the time of the shooting.
Campbell was arrested the next morning, but wasn't charged with murder for several months.
In the meantime, police went through the painstaking task of meticulously tracking the Holden Commodore from Heddon Greta to Stockton and Argenton using CCTV cameras from homes and businesses.
They had also collected voluminous amounts of other evidence, from call charge records, financial records, witness statements and covert listening devices.
Eventually, they were able to link all three men to the killing and in November, 2021 officers swooped, arresting Campbell in Honeysuckle and Hawkins in Chisholm.
The reason Alexandra immediately suspected Campbell was because of the hatred he had for her mother and her mother had for him.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Brett Hatfield, SC, took the jury through the breakdown of the relationship between Campbell and Alexandra, the birth of their child and two "important incidents" that occurred at a house in Argenton in the months before the shooting.
Mr Hatfield said in March, after the birth of his child and while his former partner was still in hospital, Campbell went to the house at Argenton and damaged property before telling Mrs Klimovitch "I'm going to do you in".
Mrs Klimovitch responded: "Go your hardest".
Then, sometime later, when Campbell came to the house at Argenton to visit his newborn child, he and Mrs Klimovitch had an argument outside that ended with Mrs Klimovitch slapping Campbell in the face.
'You're never going to know the baby," Mrs Klimovitch had told him. "Your name's not even going to be on the birth certificate."
Campbell's hatred for Mrs Klimovitch intensified and that night he sent a number of texts to Alexandra about her mother.
"It's quite simple: that house, my son and your well-being is not dictated by your mother," he wrote in one text. "Your mum will realise the only thing she's in control of is the slippers she puts on in the morning."
Then in April he wrote another message that described Mrs Klimovitch as a "miserable old woman who should be dead by now but isn't" and said: "I don't have anything to apologise for. The actions and threats from your mum left the door open".
He'd already started plotting to have her killed and approached at least one other man to be the hitman before recruiting Hawkins.
Campbell was notoriously secretive and manipulative. And he kept people in the dark about what the plan was that night.
Information was provided on a "need to know basis", as one lawyer put it.
Only he and Hawkins knew of the full plan that night and together they executed a crime so shocking and horrific that it's unprecedented and unheard of in the Hunter.
But Hawkins will be the only one convicted of murder and he's looking at the possibility of life imprisonment when he is sentenced alongside Garland in February next year.
KILLER 'PRACTISED' SAYING VICTIM'S NAME
ALEXANDRA Klimovitch was giving evidence about the man who assassinated her mother when she was asked if there was anything unusual about his voice.
No one saw the hitman who called out to Stacey Klimovitch and then, seconds later when she swung open her front door in Stockton, shot her once in the chest with a shotgun at close range.
Later, a forensic examination of the crime scene would provide no clues as to the killer's identity and CCTV footage showed only a shadowy figure creeping around the streets before the shooting.
But there was something about the shooter's voice and the way he had called out "Stacey".
"It was very specific," Alexandra said. 'Like they were trying to get her attention. It was yelled, like "Stace-eyy."
Earlier, during Garland's trial, Alexandra had been asked the same question and said the shooter had "stated" her mother's name. "Almost like he'd practised it," she said.
It seemed like an inconsequential piece of evidence.
But it might have made more sense when the jury heard the distinct voice of Jason Paul Hawkins, the Canberra man accused of the shooting.
It was only one word, shouted from outside.
But after listening to Hawkins give evidence for several days in Newcastle Supreme Court it wasn't hard to imagine him wanting to disguise his voice if he was about to commit a murder.
Slightly high-pitched with a lisp, Hawkins had a habit of saying his "s" sounds with a kind of slushy quality.
And, if he wasn't careful, he might have had trouble with a name like "Stacey".
So when he stepped up to the front door in Queen Street, armed with a shotgun and tasked with executing a grandmother, he may well have practised accentuating the name of his victim, "Stacey".
And it seemed the jury in Hawkins trial thought it might have been important, because not long into their deliberations, they wrote a note asking to listen to that part of Alexandra's evidence again, the judge checking they were after the pronunciation of "Stacey".
They all nodded. Hawkins should have known then what was coming.