A horrifying killer who torched a mothers’ body in an oil drum and forced another to live in a barn before murdering her has been put behind bars for at least 49 years. Former builder Mark Brown, 41, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court today for killing sex workers Leah Ware, 33, and Alexandra Morgan, 34, in Sussex in 2021.
Himself a father of three, Brown burned Ms Morgan’s body at a remote farm near St Leonards, and has not revealed what happened to Ms Ware – although he also killed her Pomeranian dog, Lady. He had met the two women on sex work website adultwork.com, with both of them disappearing within six months of each other.
Brown, who told a friend he was a “psychopath with a conscience”, denied murdering the pair.
He claimed mother-of-two Ms Morgan had merely slipped on some tools in his workshop and hit her head and he had burned her body in a “panic.” Meanwhile Ms Ware, he tried to claim, had left her three children behind to go off with travellers, and was alive and well.
Last December he was convicted of both murders at Hove Crown Court after a seven-week trial. The killer refused to attend court for his sentencing today and remained in his prison cell.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard said he had considered a full life tariff but felt it did not meet the necessary standard, instead sentencing him to 49 years for each murder count minus the 380 days he has served on remand. The two sentences will be served concurrently.
The families of the two victims gasped and shouted “yes” before breaking out in spontaneous applause as the sentence was announced.
During the trial the court heard that Brown killed Ms Ware after tensions grew when she pressed him to leave his partner of 14 years.
Brown later hired Ms Moran for sex around a dozen times before offering her an escorting job worth £100,000 but when she visited the farm he killed her.
The murderer told the jury he and Ms Ware broke up in early 2021 and, as far as he knows, she is still alive. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme, of Sussex Police, said the force would speak to Brown as soon as possible after the verdict to try to persuade him to say what happened to Ms Ware’s remains.
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In the six months between killing Ms Ware and Ms Morgan, Brown messaged a friend, calling himself a “psychopath with a conscience” and saying: “I’m going to be very careful how I word this – it happened again, not very long ago when disposing of something.
“It’s a very unpleasant thing to do – an old oil drum, five litres of diesel, and hey presto, there’s not very much left.
“It gets hot, very hot, it glows almost white. 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.”
In an emotional statement, Ms Ware’s mother, Rebecca Martin, said no child should have their mother taken from them in such a brutal way.
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She said: “Leah was a mother of three children. No child should go through finding out what atrocities their mother has gone through. She was kind, intelligent and loving to everyone she met.
“She will leave a huge hole in her children’s lives. I have sudden surges of mental and physical pain when I realise I wont see her again. The pain is so hard to bear.”
She added it was “sadistic torture” for Brown not to tell them where Ware’s remains were. The victims’ sister Zara added: “Losing my sister has been the most destroying and devastating experience can imagine. A perverted psychopath has preyed on my sister and taken advantage of her loneliness.”
The court heard Miss Morgan’s parents, Jackie and Michael, had been left “devastated” by their daughter’s murder.
Reading their statement, Duncan Atkinson KC, prosecuting, said: “She was a bright, energetic young woman with a determination to succeed and a strong work ethic. She had faced challenges but challenges she was overcoming. She was planning a future for her two children.”