Main witness accused of lying in murder plot case

Historic photos of Allen Morgan and Margaret Morgan
Allen and Margaret Morgan, now in their 70s, deny conspiracy to murder [BBC]

A woman who claims she witnessed a couple plotting in a pub to murder the man's then-wife has been accused of lying by the defence.

Allen Morgan, 73, and wife Margaret, 75, deny conspiracy to murder his first wife Carol, who was found bludgeoned to death in her shop in Linslade, Bedfordshire, on 13 August, 1981

Last week Luton Crown Court court heard from key witness Jane Bunting, who was 17 at the time of the killing.

She claims the couple had met her in a pub and asked for help to recruit her criminal ex-boyfriend to kill Carol, but the defence said that meeting never took place.

The couple had been engaged in a "passionate but forbidden" affair in the months before 36-year-old Carol Morgan was killed, the court was told.

The prosecution claims the couple, now of Stanstead Crescent, Woodingdean, Brighton, hired a hitman to carry out the act, although no-one has ever been charged with carrying out the murder.

Ms Bunting said that while at the former Dolphin pub in Leighton Buzzard shortly before the murder, Mr Morgan asked whether her ex-boyfriend would know anyone who could kill Carol.

She recalled him asking: “What about that Danny Mayhew you went out with? He’s a bit of a criminal - would he know someone?"

On Monday, Colin Aylott KC, defending Mr Morgan, told Ms Bunting the defence's position was that the meeting at the pub did not happen.

He revealed Mayhew had carried out a robbery in October 1981, two months after the murder, and was convicted in February 1982, where he served his first prison term.

Mayhew’s only previous conviction at the time of the alleged pub meeting was a fine he incurred at Highgate Magistrates' Court in 1972, the defence said.

Ms Bunting said: "In that case, I never knew why Allen said he was 'a bit of a criminal' apart from whatever he talked to Margaret about at that time."

Mr Aylott replied: "You've been caught in a lie."

But Ms Bunting insisted she was "not surprised the chronology doesn't work".

She added: "I know these events happened. I've always struggled after 40 years to fit them into a timeline."

But Mr Aylott told Ms Bunting: "I suggest to you that your story is falling apart here.

"You take little snippets of information and try to use it to support your story."

The defence then questioned why Ms Bunting had waited over 40 years to approach police with her pub story.

She answered: "It was not something that I thought about. This type of information, to me, I didn't know it to be vital."

She added: "At 27, I would have known that police had interviewed Allen and Margaret and were unable to identify who did [the murder]. I assumed that they had excluded Allen and Margaret."

When asked if it occurred to her to speak to the police “with the benefit of maturity”, Ms Bunting replied: “Yes, I did a couple of times. I looked to see, but it was a closed case."

Mr Aylott then questioned why she had got in touch with Margaret Morgan in 2014 and exchanged several friendly emails.

He said: "Did you not think that's a strange thing to do, given what you've told the jury?"

Ms Bunting replied: "No, I didn't. Because that thing, the murder, is not all that Margaret was to me."

The case continues.

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