Mark Brown: who is St Leonards murderer, and what happened to Leah Ware and Alexandra Morgan in East Sussex?
The family of Leah Ware has said Mark Brown “won’t allow her the dignity and respect of a proper burial or allow us to have the answers”
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A man who murdered two women six months apart was living a “double life”. Mark Brown, who described himself as a “psychopath with a conscience” in a text exchange with a friend, was found guilty of the murders of Leah Ware and Alexandra Morgan. Ms Ware’s body has never been found, and after his conviction the Crown Prosecution Service said it hoped Brown would reveal the whereabouts of her body to give her family “closure”.
Brown put 34-year-old Ms Morgan into a home-made incinerator before dumping her remains. The body of 33-year-old Ms Ware has never been found, but the prosecution believe he used a similar method – as well as also killing her Pomeranian dog, Lady.
After his conviction the Crown Prosecution Service said it hoped Brown would reveal what happened to Ms Ware’s body to give her family “closure”. The jury of 10 men and two women took 10-and-a-half hours to convict Brown of both murder charges on Thursday. Brown stared ahead with a blank expression as the verdict was read out amid gasps from the public gallery, made up of a number of Ms Ware and Ms Morgan’s family members..
Ms Ware’s family said in a statement that Brown “won’t allow her the dignity and respect of a proper burial or allow us to have the answers we so desperately need and deserve”.
Brown met Ms Ware in 2018 when he hired her as an escort and they developed an “on again, off again” relationship. He killed her on or around 7 May last year after tensions grew when she pressed him to leave his partner of 14 years the court heard.
Who is Mark Brown?
He worked in the groundwork industry but also had other jobs, including as a security guard, a pilot vehicle driver for a static caravan company, and buying and reselling cars. The 41-year-old, from St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex, had no criminal record and showed no signs of being violent.
But he secretly used a website where sex workers advertise their services, and spent inheritance money to fund his lifestyle, meeting up to 10 escorts. Brown met both victims through the same website. After seizing his phone, officers found he watched violent and extreme pornography. The court was told that Brown had searched for terms including “kidnapped raped”, “brutal”, “kink dating”, as well as other terms. All this, police said, culminated in the murders.
“Detective Superintendent Andy Wolstenholme, of Sussex Police, said: “There was no evidence Brown harmed anyone in the past. He had no criminal history of sexual violence. We contacted all individuals – less than 10 people – he had met through the adult website. They all said Brown did not give any indication he was violent in any way.
“Brown only used one phone and was quite brazen in how he went about his business – his partner wasn’t looking through his phone. He had lots of jobs which kept him very busy, and in 2018 he received some inheritance money which would fund his lifestyle of paying for sex.”
Libby Clark, senior prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “He has two sides to him – the fact he has a family at home but was seeing Leah Ware shows he was living a double life. He can endear himself to people, so with no criminal history and no indication of violence or aggression makes him more puzzling as a person.”
What happened to Leah Ware and Alexandra Morgan?
Brown first met Ms Ware in March 2018 when he hired her as an escort. Their meeting evolved into a relationship and by the end of the year Brown had paid for Ms Ware to live in a flat in nearby Hastings for six months – unbeknown to Brown’s partner.
Once the flat’s lease expired in early 2019, Ms Ware moved to a static caravan at Little Bridge Farm, which Brown hired for storage and to work on cars. When the landlord found out Ms Ware was living there, he told her to leave because there was no planning permission for anyone to live on the site.
Brown then moved her into a partially converted shipping container, hidden inside his workshop, where she lived until her death. Brown disposed of the static caravan by setting fire to it.
She was an animal lover and devoted to her pets. At the time of her death she had a horse, Bertie, and two dogs, Duke and Lady. Brown gave Duke to his sister shortly after 7 May 2021, when police say he killed Ms Ware. Lady, a Pomeranian, was said to be completely loyal to Ms Ware, even following her to the bathroom.
Pomeranian bones were found on the farm along with a length of chain and a dumbbell weight, and police say Brown killed Lady either shortly before or after Ms Ware. In the six months between killing Ms Ware and Ms Morgan, Brown messaged a friend calling himself a “psychopath with a conscience”, saying: “The things I have done weigh heavily on my heart, on my head and my soul. A psychopath with a conscience – it’s a joke really.”
The jury found this message referred to Brown disposing of Ms Ware’s remains. Brown hired Ms Morgan for sex around a dozen times before offering her an escorting job worth £100,000 in October 2021.
But when she visited Little Bridge Farm, the site he rented, the following month, he killed her and burned her body in an incinerator. He then dumped her remains in a skip at the building site where he worked in Sevenoaks, Kent.
Brown claimed she died in an accident at the farm after hitting her head when she slipped in his workshop and he burned her body “in a panic”. He told the jury he and Ms Ware broke up in early 2021 and, as far as he knows, she is still alive.
When will Brown be sentenced?
Judge Justice Nicholas Hilliard adjourned sentencing until 13 January, saying the case is of the “utmost gravity” and thanking the jury for committing to the case for so long.
Libby Clark, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This is a tragic case where two women – Alex Morgan and Leah Ware – were murdered and treated with utter disregard and cruelty at the hands of Mark Brown. Brown has never accepted his actions; he claimed Alex’s death was an accident and created a web of lies to cover up the truth about Leah’s murder.
“We are pleased the jury saw through his lies and convicted him today, closing this complex and challenging case. Our thoughts remain with the families of Alex Morgan and Leah Ware. We hope, now Brown has been convicted, he will finally tell us what happened to Leah’s body, so her family can have closure.”