A builder who murdered two women, having kept one of them semi-captive in a shipping container, has been sentenced to at least 49 years in prison.
Mark Brown, 41, who described himself as a “psychopath with a conscience”, killed Leah Ware, 33, and Alexandra Morgan, 34, in May and November 2021 at a remote farm near St Leonards in East Sussex.
He refused to attend Hove crown court on Friday, where the judge, Nicholas Hilliard, described his actions as “depraved” and sentenced him to two life terms with a minimum tariff of 49 years.
The judge said: “No sentence I pass is any measure of the lives that have been lost. No sentence can put right what the defendant has done – that’s not possible. Brown hasn’t attended court today, which shows his conscience is untroubled by what he has done.”
Brown met both women on an escort website, the court heard.
He put the body of Morgan, a mother of two, head-first into a homemade incinerator before dumping her remains, the judge was told. The body of Ware, a mother of three, has never been found, but the prosecution believe he used a similar method to dispose of her body. He also drowned her pomeranian dog, Lady, whose remains were found tied to a kettlebell in a pond on Brown’s farm.
The jury of 10 men and two women took 10 and a half hours to convict Brown of both murder charges last month. They were told that Brown had an interest in “extreme sexual activities” and held Ware as a “voluntary prisoner” in a shipping container on the farm during an increasingly controlling relationship. Ware had described Brown as creepy after a friend expressed surprise that she was living in a dark container, the court heard.
In the six months between killing Ware and Morgan, Brown messaged a friend, calling himself a “psychopath with a conscience”. He also confessed to disposing of something the jury concluded were Ware’s remains.
He wrote: “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. The things I have done weigh heavily on my heart, on my head and my soul.”
Brown hired Morgan for sex about a dozen times before offering her an escorting job worth £100,000 in October 2021. When she visited Little Bridge Farm, the site he rented, the next month, he killed her and burned her body in an incinerator.
Brown, from St Leonards-on-Sea, claimed Morgan died in an accident at the farm after hitting her head when she slipped in his workshop. He said he burned her body “in a panic”. Brown claimed Ware was still alive.
Hilliard said: “He successfully disposed of Leah Ware’s body – exactly what happened will never be known, but he intended for Alex Morgan to never leave Little Bridge Farm alive.”