A builder who described himself as a “psychopath with a conscience” has been found guilty of murdering two women, one of whom he kept semi-captive in a shipping container.
Mark Brown, 41, killed Leah Ware, 33, and Alexandra Morgan, 34, six months apart last year at a remote farm near St Leonards in East Sussex, a jury at Hove crown court found.
He met both women on adultwork.com one of the UK’s largest prostitution websites, where Brown used the profile name “fistymc”, the court heard.
Brown put Morgan, a single mother of two, head-first into a home-made incinerator before dumping her remains, it 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.
The court heard 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 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. There were gasps from the public gallery, where the families of Morgan and Ware were sitting.
Brown met 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. He tried to conceal her disappearance by continuing to collect her benefits and medication, the court heard.
Brown also killed one of Ware’s dogs according to the prosecution, a pomeranian called Lady, which went everywhere with her. The bones of a dog were found tied to a kettlebell when police drained a pond at Little Bridge Farm, the site Brown rented.
In the six months between killing Ware and Morgan, Brown messaged a friend 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.”
He added: “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.”
The jury concluded this message referred to Brown disposing of Ware’s remains.
Brown hired Morgan for sex before offering her an escorting job worth £100,000 in October 2021.
But when she visited Little Bridge Farm, 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 Ware broke up in early 2021 and, as far as he knows, she is still alive.
The judge Mr Justice Nicholas Hilliard adjourned sentencing until 13 January saying the case was of the “utmost gravity”, and thanked the jury for committing to it for so long.
Libby Clark, senior prosecutor at 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.”
In a statement Ware’s family said Brown had “betrayed Leah’s love and trust, and even now he 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.
“We are truly devastated that Leah has been ripped from our lives in such inhumane circumstances. It breaks our hearts to think of what she went through in the time leading up to her murder.”