Saturday 24 June 2017

Multi-millionaire murder accused started using escorts during "mid-life crisis"

Georgina Symonds who was killed by multi-millionaire Peter Morgan (Photo: Gwent Police/PA Wire)
Georgina Symonds who was killed by multi-millionaire Peter Morgan (Photo: Gwent Police/PA Wire)

Claire Hayhurst

A multi-millionaire property developer accused of murdering his lover told how he began using escorts after having a mid-life crisis.

Peter Morgan, 54, strangled mother-of-one Georgina Symonds, 25, after discovering she planned to "fleece him", leave him and work for other men.

The father-of-two, from Llanellen, near Abergavenny, lavished Miss Symonds with expensive gifts and paid her up to £10,000 per month to be his personal escort.

Morgan, who denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, killed her in a bungalow which he owned and where she lived rent free in Llanmartin, Newport, on January 12.

Newport Crown Court heard Miss Symonds was blackmailing Morgan, who is worth £20 million, with a series of explicit images including one of her in his wife's dressing gown at his matrimonial home.

Giving his evidence-in-chief, Morgan said he had first started using escorts in 2011 after a friend showed him how to access their services online through his iPhone.

He phoned an escort on the website and visited her the following day, paying £130 for an hour with her.

"I would do it once a month," Morgan told the jury. "I liked it because it was very unemotional and you didn't get attached.

"I remember the first one I shook her hand after I left. It was just like that - unemotional."

Morgan told the jury he saw a different escort every time, visiting women based around Newport and Cardiff.

On May 7 2012, he phoned Miss Symonds and arranged to meet her at 2.15pm the following day. He paid her £150 for her services.

"I don't know what it was but I just seemed to get on with her," he said.

"It was the first time I had been back to see one. I had no intention of seeing one more than once."

Morgan regularly met with Miss Symonds but also saw other escorts and she saw other men.

When his wife, Helen, was on holiday, Morgan paid Miss Symonds £1,000 to stay in a windmill he had renovated, Llancayo Windmill.

Morgan also went to the home Miss Symonds shared with her then-boyfriend Peter Deem and their young daughter.

"We did a lot of things together," the machine fanatic told the jury.

"She would come on the motorbike. We would go shopping."

Morgan told the jury he had purchased an American fire engine and a tank, which he parked outside his marital home, Beech Hill Farm in Usk, Gwent.

By 2013, he was seeing Miss Symonds once a week, along with other escorts.

"I had a three-way with George and another prostitute," he told the court.

"The first time was in 2012, it was the middle of November. It was at the flat in Newport. The flat belonged to the other girl, Robyn.

"I can't remember if I suggested it or if George suggested it."

The jury heard that Miss Symonds' mobile phone was examined by police following her death and a number of images and videos were found.

There were pictures of Miss Symonds and Morgan engaging in sexual activity, with white powder on parts of her body.

Miss Symonds, Morgan and another escort called Lauren were photographed in the marital bed at Beech Hill Farm.

Another escort called Sam was pictured standing in front of the Army tank at the property.

There were images of Miss Symonds naked in the marital bed at Beech Hill Farm.

She was also seen stroking a cat there while wearing Morgan's wife's dressing gown.

In other pictures, Miss Symonds was pictured in underwear with dogs at the property.

Read More: Millionaire property developer accused of strangling escort girlfriend 'planted listening device in her home'

There were selfies of Miss Symonds and Morgan in bed, selfies of Miss Symonds alone and films of Miss Symonds in sexually explicit poses.

Videos and images showed Miss Symonds and another escort engaging in sexual activity on agricultural machinery.

On January 10, Morgan overheard Miss Symonds tell lover Tom Ballinger that she would wait for Morgan to transfer the bungalow into her name. She would then leave him and blackmail him using the images.

Morgan heard the conversation through a listening device he had planted at the property.

In the early hours of January 11, Morgan made a list on his iPhone reading: "String, 02, poly, glove, snip, handle, tape, Special K, starter, rag, adapter."

Morgan went to the bungalow in the morning of January 12 and strangled Miss Symonds before driving her body to Beech Hill Farm.

Officers recovered her body - wrapped in thick black plastic, tape and rope - from an outbuilding there the following day.

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