Murder accused claims animal-loving victim drowned beloved pet dog, court hears

A man accused of murdering a woman he was having an affair with claims she had “lost it” and had killed her beloved pet dog days before he allegedly killed her, a court has heard.

Mark Brown, 41, from St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, is charged with the murders of Leah Ware, 33 and Alexandra Morgan, 34, six months apart in 2021.

The trial at Hove Crown Court focused on Thursday on Brown’s relationship with Ms Ware, with whom he had an “on again, off again” relationship from 2018 until May 2021, the jury was told.

In the months before her death, Brown told the court he was considering leaving his long-term partner, with whom he had three sons, to be with Ms Ware permanently.

However, he said he hesitated to do this because of Ms Ware’s “usage of crack cocaine and heroin”.

Brown said he noticed Lady, Ms Ware’s Pomeranian dog, had gone missing on either April 4 or 5. When he asked where she was, Ms Ware said “she had probably run off into the woods or gone after a rabbit”.

The next day, Brown visited Little Bridge Farm, where Ms Ware lived with her two dogs, but could not find Ms Ware or Lady.

He found her other dog, Duke, fed him, and then decided to take him for a walk around the farm. While on the walk, he found something floating in the lake on the farm.

Mark Brown court case
Leah Ware (Sussex Police)

Giving evidence, Brown said: “There were cut down tree branches in the water and what looked like Lady was on top of the branches floating in the lake.

“I got a rake to try and pull Lady out of the water and she came up with a chain around her neck and a 12kg weight tied to it.

“Duke was all over it so I took him back inside then went back to see if I could find Leah.

“I found her and I said ‘you’re f****** sick, you’ve lost it, I can’t cope with this shit when you’re like this’, then I got in the car and drove off. Leah didn’t say anything or really react.”

Earlier on Thursday, Brown said he bought Lady for Ms Ware as “emotional support” and a “reason to get up in the morning”.

Ms Ware’s friends and family say she was a devoted animal lover and would never have allowed any harm to come to her pets.

Brown denies both charges of murder.

The trial continues.