Man jailed for at least 49 years for murders of Kent and Sussex women
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A man who murdered two women from Kent and Sussex has been given two life sentences with a minimum of 49 years each.
Mark Brown, 41, was found guilty of killing 32-year-old Leah Ware and 34-year-old Alexandra Morgan at a yard he rented at Little Bridge Farm in Westfield, near Hastings.
He denied both murders but was convicted by a unanimous jury on 1 December 2023 following a seven-week trial at Hove Crown Court.
At the same court on Friday 13 January 2023, Brown was given two life sentences with a minimum term of 49 years each, to run concurrently. That means he must spend at least 49 years in prison before even being considered for parole.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Brown is a dangerous individual who poses a significant threat to women. He preyed on the vulnerabilities of Leah and Alex and worked to build their trust, only to then exploit it for his own personal gain.
“It was important for his sentence to truly reflect the abhorrent nature of his crimes and ensure he’s not in a position to harm any other women for the rest of his life.”
An investigation had been launched on 18 November 2021 when Alex Morgan’s parents reported her missing to Kent Police after she failed to return home as expected.
A mother of two young children, Alex had met Brown through an adult services website. Extensive detective work established – via hours of analysing ANPR and CCTV footage as well as Alex’s phone records – that on Sunday 14 November, she had driven from her home in Sissinghurst near Cranbrook to meet Brown at Little Bridge Farm.
Brown, of Squirrel Close, St Leonards, East Sussex, was charged with her murder on 28 November 2021 after evidence showed he had murdered Alex at Little Bridge Farm and burned her body in an oil drum.
Officers found the oil drum at a building site near Sevenoaks where Brown was employed, and forensic odontologists used dental records to confirm the remains were that of Alex Morgan.
After appearing in court, Brown was presented with this evidence and subsequently admitted burning Alex’s body after she died but insisted he was not responsible for her murder, rather that she died after slipping and falling over at the site.
While searching Brown’s van, officers found prescription drugs in the name of Leah Ware. Believing she may be able to help with their ongoing enquiries, detectives tried to find Leah but were unable to do so. On 26 November, Kent Police contacted Sussex Police to raise concerns about Leah’s welfare and officers opened a missing person investigation.
Detectives discovered Leah had been in a relationship with Mark Brown, having met him through an adult services website in March 2018, and that she lived in the shipping container he kept at Little Bridge Farm.
However, no one had seen or spoken to Leah since early May 2021. She had not been in contact with family or friends, either in person or online, and detectives established there was no record of her using a mobile phone, accessing her finances, or receiving medical care since that time.
Sussex Police detectives concluded that Mark Brown was the last person to see Leah alive, and that she died on or around the evening of 7 May 2021.
Following her death, Brown had tried to create the impression Leah was still alive. He collected her weekly prescriptions and made regular withdrawals from her bank account. This conflicted though, with information Brown gave to colleagues and friends about Leah’s whereabouts, telling people she was either in hospital or had taken her own life.
Already in custody for the murder of Alexandra Morgan, Brown was then interviewed by Sussex Police officers in relation to the disappearance of Leah Ware. He gave no comment and was subsequently charged with her murder on 1 February 2022.
Detective Superintendent Andy Wolstenholme, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, added: “We hope the conviction and sentence of Mark Brown will bring some sense of justice to the families of both Alex and Leah, and allow them to come to terms with the tragic loss of their loved ones.
“Even though the court case has concluded, we are still committed to following-up all viable lines of enquiry that may help us locate Leah’s body and give her family some of the answers they so desperately want and deserve.”