Wed, 19 October 2022 at 6:20 pm
A woman murdered by a builder at a remote farm left a trail of clues for police to follow, a court has heard.
Alex Morgan, 34, who was working as an escort, was allegedly killed after meeting Mark Brown, 40, at the farm and her body torched in an oil drum.
But before she left him she left a note for her son on the living room table saying: “Let’s go rollerblading.”
Alongside his rollerblades, the box contained a trail of clues including a handwritten note, photos, a phone and an address where she may be found, Hove Crown Court heard.
Duncan Atkinson KC, prosecuting, said that days earlier the defendant had offered Miss Morgan an extremely well-paid job at the hotel where he worked but she had to keep quiet about it.
He said: “She clearly realised that it may not be above board, because she left that trail of clues for her sons, and the police, to find.”
A jury heard that using the clues she left, detectives were able to follow the victim’s movements.
They were able to trace her car as it left her home in Cranbrook, Kent and made the 18-mile journey to the remote Little Bridge Farm, on the outskirts of Hastings.
Mr Brown, a father-of-one, rented the land and outbuildings at the farm where he often worked doing up cars.
He is on trial for the murders of Miss Morgan, and Leah Ware, 33, who both disappeared six months apart in the Hastings area, East Sussex, last year.
Hove Crown Court heard both women had been working as escorts and both had been registered on the adultwork.com website.
The jury heard Mr Brown killed both sex workers at the remote farm and buildings he rented near Hastings and then torched their bodies.
Forensic officers later found burned bones and teeth as well as cosmetics, hair straighteners and jewellery belonging to Miss Morgan, a mother-of-two, in an old oil drum at a building site in Sevenoaks in Kent where Mr Brown had been working.
They also found the key to her Mini Cooper wrapped in a crisp packet and dumped in a digger.
Days earlier, after being questioned by police over her disappearance, Mr Brown had allegedly tried to pass on the car key to a workmate who had declined it.
They also discovered an old oil drum at the farm which had been used to burn to dispose of something – although police have been unable to find Miss Ware’s remains.
‘Things I’ve done weigh heavily on my heart’
After Miss Ware disappeared Mr Brown sent a chilling text to a friend describing the task of burning things in an oil drum.
He said it was “a very unpleasant thing to do”, adding, “Things I’ve done weigh heavily on my heart, in my head and soul, a psychopath with a conscience”.
The jury heard that Mr Brown and Miss Morgan had met several times for sex in the months leading up to her death.
Just days before Miss Morgan’s disappearance, Mr Brown, who also worked as night security at a hotel in Brighton, had offered her a job which could net her £100,000.
In a series of text messages he said the job at the Travelodge involved collecting cash and leaving the building a few times but would last no more than five days.
But in a text he urged her to be discreet about it saying: “I trust you to keep quiet.”
Mr Atkinson said: “The defendant had offered her an extremely well-paid job at the hotel that he provided security at, and thus in Brighton, about which she had to be quiet.
“That you may think explains the false excuse she gave to her family, and how carefully she was dressed when she went to the farm. She clearly realised that it may not be above board, because she left that trail of clues for her sons, and the police, to find.”
Miss Morgan left a large sum of cash, a mobile phone, a handwritten note which said: “Photos evidence Brighton Premier Inn or Travel Lodge, security company on site”.
It also said “Check postcode TN34 5NY Rock Lane, opposite Bartletts”, the location where she later met Mr Brown.
There was a further note, which included the PIN for the phone and a reference to Brighton placed next to the TV screen.
The phone itself contained screenshots of a series of messages sent to Miss Morgan by Mr Brown.
Hove Crown Court heard the last time Miss Morgan was seen alive was on the morning of Remembrance Sunday November 14 last year when she stopped for petrol on her way to meet Mr Brown.
‘I am going to be arrested’
As the net closed Brown was approached by his boss in Sevenoaks, Alan Downs, who asked him what was going on.
The court heard he replied: “The police have my phone and I am going to be arrested.”
Mr Downs asked what for and Mr Brown said: ‘Murder.. double… I’m going away for 25 to life’.
Mr Atkinson said: “The reference by the defendant to ‘double’, at a time when he had not been arrested for the murder of Leah Ware, was significant.
“Asked if he had done it, the defendant’s reply was also significant. Rather than saying no, he replied: ‘I can’t comment at this time’, and added ‘I’ve got to take this one’. He also told Downs: ‘It depends on what they find at my yard’.”
Miss Ware, 33, who went missing six months before Miss Morgan, was a mother of three who lived a “chaotic” lifestyle. She did not have custody of her children and had a history of mental illness and drug use.
She had been living in a shipping container at Little Bridge Farm where she would see Mr Brown regularly.
The court heard he often padlocked her into the barn when he was absent and was becoming increasingly controlling of her.
She went missing on or around May 7 2021 and she has not been seen by friends or neighbours since.
Just a day after she was last seen Mr Brown also re-homed her dog with his sister.
However, Mr Atkinson said, Mr Brown tried to make it appear as if Miss Ware was still alive and well.
Mr Brown had denied two charges of murder. The case continues.