Married couple on trial accused of arranging murder over 40 years ago of husband's then wife

A married couple are on trial accused of hiring a killer to murder the husband's then wife in 1981, a trial has heard.

Allen Morgan, 73, and Margaret Morgan, 75, are now married.

The couple, from Brighton, deny conspiring to murder on 13 August 1981 Allen Morgan's wife at the time, Carol Morgan, who was killed at the corner shop she ran with her husband.

A trial has heard that the husband and his lover "arranged and paid for" the murder of Carol Morgan so they could be together.

Luton Crown Court was told the co-defendants were "in a passionate but forbidden and adulterous love affair".

Pavlos Panayi KC, opening the prosecution's case today, told jurors that the case revolved around "a brutal murder that happened in 1981, over 40 years ago, and has remain unsolved in all that time".

He said that Carol had been murdered in the corner shop, in Linslade, Bedfordshire.

The prosecutor said the killer, who remains unidentified, "used an axe or heavy knife or machete to hack into her body and skull causing horrifying injuries from which she died".

Mr Panayi added: "In the summer of 1981 the first defendant, Allen Morgan, who was married to the deceased Carol Morgan, was having an affair.

"His lover was the second defendant, who is now called Margaret Morgan."

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He said the affair had been ongoing for over a year at the time, but Allen Morgan couldn't divorce his wife because she brought the money into the marriage and due to "spiralling debts".

After Carol Morgan's death, Margaret Morgan, then called Margaret Spooner, left her husband and moved in with Allen Morgan before they got married.

Allen and Carol Morgan had both been married before they met, with Carol Morgan having sole custody of two children who lived with them in a flat above their corner shop, the court heard.

Allen Morgan's children lived with his ex-wife, Mr Panayi said.

On the day Carol Morgan was killed, Allen Morgan took her two children to the cinema in Luton to see a double bill, the prosecutor said.

He added that they had not been due back until almost 11pm, leaving Carol Morgan alone in the shop.

The prosecutor alleged that Allen Morgan "didn't have a strong relationship with his step-children" and had never before taken them out without their mother.

After Carol Morgan closed the shop that day, an attacker or attackers struck around 7pm and she was killed inside the store room.

Mr Panayi said that police found "no sign of any forced entry" and the family's dog, who would normally "have the run of the premises", had been shut into a bedroom.

He said that Allen Morgan told police in a witness statement at the time that he was "shocked" by the discovery but denied playing any part in the murder.

The trial continues.