Murder accused ‘said alleged victim took own life to avoid talking about her’

A man accused of murder said he told people his alleged victim had “taken her own life” so he could avoid talking about her, a court has heard.

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

He denies both charges.

The defence case of the trial got under way at Hove Crown Court on Thursday morning, with defendant Brown taking the stand for the first time.

When questioned by defence barrister Ian Henderson KC, Brown said he did not kill Ms Ware, orally rape her or “harm a hair on her head”.

He also denied being controlling towards her and said he did not know where Ms Ware is.

Brown accepted he had given differing accounts to different people as to where Ms Ware was after the prosecution allege he killed her in May 2021.

While giving evidence, Brown said his on again-off again relationship with Ms Ware was “off” throughout most of 2021.

He told two friends Ms Ware had been sectioned and was in Woodlands, a mental health facility, and told others that she was “no longer with us”.

When asked by Mr Henderson why he used the phrase “no longer with us” if he believed Ms Ware is alive, Brown said: “I think they presumed it was a suicide and I didn’t want to talk about it. I’m not very good with my emotions. I used the phrase so people wouldn’t keep asking questions.

“I wanted to speak to someone and it was just an easier way of speaking, without all the other stuff like the drug abuse.”

Brown spoke of Ms Ware’s drug habits, as she was a regular user of marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin. He said he had bought her marijuana a few times but only purchased cocaine and heroin for her once.

At this point Brown broke down crying in the stand and said this happened “on the day we lost the baby” – referring to a termination Ms Ware went through with on February 21 2020.

Brown and Ware took the cocaine and heroin together on that date “for the pain”.

The trial continues.