Husband guilty of conspiring to murder wife in 1981

Mugshot of Allen Morgan
A new witness in 2018 said Allen Morgan wanted to find a hitman to kill his wife [Bedfordshire Police ]

A husband accused of hiring a hitman to murder his former wife in 1981 has been found guilty.

Carol Morgan, 36, was killed in a shop she ran with her husband Allen Morgan in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Morgan, 73, from Stanstead Crescent, Woodingdean, Brighton, denied conspiring to murder.

His current wife and then lover Margaret Morgan, 75, was found not guilty of the same charge by a jury at Luton Crown Court.

Black and white image of Carol Morgan.
Carol Morgan was killed in what police originally thought was a burglary gone wrong [Bedfordshire Police]

Morgan, 73, found his wife's body in the storeroom when he returned from taking her two children, then aged 14 and 12, to a cinema in Luton.

Prosecutors said the cinema trip gave Morgan a "cast-iron" alibi while a paid hitman murdered Carol and robbed the store.

At the time detectives believed Carol had been the victim of a burglary that had gone wrong, but a cold case investigation in 2018 uncovered a new witness who said Morgan wanted to find a hitman to kill his wife.

Jane Bunting, 60, told the jury she met Morgan in the Dolphin pub in Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, a few months before the murder.

Ms Bunting, who was 17 at the time, said she was "appalled" and "horrified" when Morgan asked if her ex-boyfriend knew anyone who could kill.

She said: “He'd say, 'I hate Carol', 'I don't want to be married to her', 'I wish she'd die', 'wouldn't an accident be nice?'."

Carol and Allen Morgan on their wedding day.
Carol and Allen Morgan had been married since March 1977 [Bedfordshire Police]

A killer, who has never been caught, used an axe or machete to attack Carol before escaping with £435 in cash and 1,400 cigarettes.

The Morgans had spiralling debts in 1981 and Carol had made a will leaving everything to her husband.

The shop also had a life insurance policy linked to it, the court heard.

Prosecutor Pavlos Panayi KC said: “The killer had some inside information before entering premises.

"The obvious conclusion was that the killer was told by Allen Morgan where he would find the cash, which may well have constituted part payment for the murder.”

The jury heard that about a year before his wife's death Morgan had begun an affair with Margaret Spooner, whom he later married.

Dean Morgan, Carol’s son, told the jury it was a “real shock” in 2019 when the police told him that his step-parents had been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder. He said he flew home from a holiday.

The 57-year-old said he last spoke to his stepfather in 2023, when he was charged.

“He told me it was all a mix up and I told him I had no idea about what happened.

“The argument became heated and he put the phone down on me. We have not spoken since.”

'Frenzied and sustained attack'

Det Supt Carl Foster, who lead the cold case investigation, said: “Carol was killed in a frenzied and sustained attack, suffering horrific injuries which cruelly cut short her life."

He said the case had to rely on "good old-fashioned detective work" including retracing evidence and revisiting witnesses.

He said a "change in people's allegiances" over the past four decades had been key to the case.

“Carol was effectively erased from all memory, including those of her own two children, who have grown up without their mother, being raised by the man responsible for her death,” he added.

He said the force remained committed to finding out who murdered Carol.

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