Daughter of Linslade murder victim 'saw defendant as friend'

Historic images of Allen and Margaret Morgan
Allen and Margaret Morgan deny conspiracy to murder [BBC]

The daughter of a shopkeeper killed by an unknown attacker has told a court of her bond with her stepmother, accused of plotting the murder.

Carol Morgan, 36, was struck in the head with an axe or machete at her shop in Linslade, Bedfordshire, in 1981.

Her-then husband Allen, 73, and his second wife Margaret Morgan, 75, deny conspiracy to murder.

Carol's daughter Jane Scales told Luton Crown Court she had an "excellent" relationship with her stepmother.

Mr and Mrs Morgan, of Stanstead Crescent, Woodingdean, Brighton, were arrested in 2019.

The jury has heard they were having a year-long affair and hired a killer to murder Carol.

'Cast-iron alibi'

Prosecutor Pavlos Panayi KC previously told the court the killing took place on 13 August in the storeroom of the Morgans' Food Fare store in Finch Crescent.

Mrs Scales was 12 and her brother Dean was 14. Both were the children of Carol's previous marriage.

Mr Panayi said that on the night in question, Mr Morgan took them to the cinema in Dunstable Road, Luton.

He alleged he did so in order to leave the way clear for the killer he knew would strike that night and give himself a "cast-iron alibi".

One witness, who is now dead, said Carol had told her the children had not wanted to go and that Mr Morgan had not asked her to join them.

Mrs Morgan, who moved into the family home weeks after the killing, married Mr Morgan a year later and the family moved to Brighton.

Giving evidence, Mrs Scales said she was unable to recall details of that night beyond her 1981 witness statement.

She told the court she had an "excellent" relationship with her stepmother.

Clare Wade KC, defending Mrs Morgan, asked Mrs Scales: "You saw her as a family friend, is that right?"

Mrs Scales responded: "That's right."

Ms Wade said: "You did things like baking, when she was looking after you... your relationship with her as a stepmum has been a good one, hasn't it?"

Mrs Scales said: "It's been excellent, yes."

Historic photo of store on Finch Crescent, Linslade, Bedfordshire
The prosecution said the killer had “inside knowledge” about where money was kept in the couple's shop [BBC]

Ms Wade went on: "In fact, when your own daughter was being born, [Margaret] was incredibly supportive wasn't she? She was there in the delivery room when you had a difficult labour?"

At this point, Mrs Scales broke down in tears and the court was adjourned.

When the hearing resumed, Ms Wade asked: "After you eventually went back to work when your maternity leave ended, it was Margaret who looked after your baby?"

Mrs Scales agreed Mrs Morgan had "shared care" of her daughter and had an "excellent" relationship with her.

Cash and cigarettes

The court heard that on his return home from the cinema, Mr Morgan had claimed to be shocked by the killing, saying he had played no part in it.

He said £400 cash had been taken from a desk and £35 from the till, along with 1,400 cigarettes.

He was quickly ruled out as the murderer because of his alibi.

The prosecution is set to call Jane Bunting, who was 17 at the time.

Now 60, she came forward in March 2021 when she learnt police had reopened the case.

Mr Panayi alleged Ms Bunting met Mr Morgan and Margaret in The Dolphin pub in Linslade a few months before the murder.

He said Mr Morgan speculated whether Ms Bunting, who was dating a known criminal named Danny Mayhew, knew anyone who could help him kill his wife.

Ms Bunting was shocked and appalled and left the pub, he said.

"The prosecution say they wanted Carol Morgan dead and had begun to plan the recruitment," said Mr Panayi.

"We do not know who they eventually found. That man may never be brought to justice. They were planning to rid themselves of Carol Morgan."

The case continues.

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