“Her crime was enormous and its outcome was severe. She played the major role, and should be sentenced to death,” said Tang Yigan, the vice chief of the Intermediate People’s Court in the central city of Hefei, where the trial took place.
However, the court explained it had suspended the sentence in light of Gu’s mental state, her admissions of guilt and remorse, and her cooperation with the investigation.
Gu, a former lawyer, will now serve a minimum of 14 years in prison.
Her death penalty is likely to be commuted to life imprisonment after two years of good behaviour, and further good behaviour could see her sentence reduced again.
Gu was under mental duress last year, believing Neil Heywood was going to harm or kill her son over a failed property deal. Judges in the case said there was no evidence Heywood or his associates would have ever done so, however.