16 November 2022

Murder accused drained victim’s bank account, court told

16 November 2022

A man accused of murdering his partner drained her bank account in the weeks after her death, a court has been told.

Mark Brown, 41, of Squirrel Close, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, is charged with murdering Leah Ware, 33, and Alexandra Morgan, 34, six months apart in 2021.

After Ms Ware’s disappearance on May 7 2021, every week Brown collected her prescription medication and withdrew money at a cashpoint using her new bank card, which was delivered to the address of his sister Cheryl, the trial at Hove Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

He would then leave the cash and medication in a horse box belonging to their pet Bertie.

Prosecution lawyer Duncan Atkinson KC detailed a number of times in the weeks after Ms Ware’s disappearance when Brown took £200 from her account – the maximum allowed in a transaction.

This led to Ms Ware’s balance falling from more than £2,000 to £45, jurors were told.

Universal credit and personal independence payments were paid into Ms Ware’s account each Monday and withdrawals by Brown continued on or around this day every week, reducing her account balance to £85.10, then £5.10, then to £37.84 by June 9, the court heard.

Twice in July 2021, Brown withdrew £200 from Ms Ware’s account before paying £200 into his own shortly after.

Asked why he did this, he said: “I probably used her £200 then replaced it. At that time someone owed me £430 so they probably paid me back.”

Mr Atkinson said: “The reality is the withdrawals of money from Leah Ware’s account had nothing to do with her and everything to do with you. Is it a coincidence she died after her new bank card arrived?”

Brown replied: “I don’t know what you’re getting at because as far as I’m aware she’s not dead.”

Mr Atkinson said there was a period of about a month from May 16 2021 when Brown did not take any money from his own bank account.

Brown said: “I sold seven cars that month so I was running off that cash.”

Mr Atkinson asked: “You were running off Ms Ware’s money, weren’t you? You knew Leah was somewhere where money wasn’t going to help her.”

Brown replied: “I don’t know what planet you’re living on.”

When asked where Ms Ware’s bank card is now, Brown said he left it, with a note, in a box on top of his kitchen cupboards.

Judge Mr Justice Nicholas Hilliard asked Brown what the note said, to which Brown replied: “I would rather not say. It’s private.”

After the judge reminded him he swore to tell the whole truth, Brown said: “The note said something along the lines of, ‘I’m so sorry I’m not going to be about to help you. I love you. Be safe. Here’s the new card and PIN number for you. Please look after our Berts’.”

The note was written between Kent Police first speaking to Brown in relation to missing Ms Morgan on November 23 and his arrest for her murder on November 25.

The prosecution say Brown killed Ms Ware on or around May 7 2021 and burned her body in an incinerator – the same way he later allegedly disposed of Ms Morgan’s remains in November 2021.

Brown denies both charges of murder.

The trial continues.

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