Pensioner found guilty of conspiring to murder wife after hiring hitman amid 'passionate but forbidden' affair

19 June 2024, 17:30 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 17:32

Allen Morgan, 73, said he was locked in a "passionate but forbidden" affair with his now wife Margaret, 75, when he hired a hitman to kill his then-partner Carol
Allen Morgan, 73, said he was locked in a "passionate but forbidden" affair with his now wife Margaret, 75, when he hired a hitman to kill his then-partner Carol. Picture: Bedfordshire Police

By Christian Oliver

A pensioner is facing the prospect of dying behind bars after he was today found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill his wife over 40 years ago.

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Allen Morgan, 73, said he was locked in a "passionate but forbidden" affair with his now wife Margaret, 75, when he hired a hitman to kill his then-partner Carol Morgan.

The hitman - who still remains unknown - organised a "cast-iron" alibi for Morgan while they killed Carol using an axe or machete in the storeroom of her grocery shop in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, in 1981.

Morgan was today unanimously convicted by a jury of conspiracy to murder Carol on 13 August 1981, despite denying the charge.

His current wife and then lover Margaret was found not guilty of the same charge following the trial at Luton Crown Court.

Court artist sketch of Margaret Morgan, 74 and Allen Morgan, 73 appearing at Luton Crown Court, April 17
Court artist sketch of Margaret Morgan, 74 and Allen Morgan, 73 appearing at Luton Crown Court, April 17. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/Alamy

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Carol's body was found in the storeroom by Morgan after he returned from the cinema with his two children, then aged 12 and 14.

This gave Morgan a "cast-iron" alibi while he paid a hitman to carry out the murder, prosecutors said.

Detectives at the time blamed the death on a burglary that went wrong, but cold case investigators uncovered new evidence in 2018 that eventually led to Morgan's conviction.

Witnesses told police that Morgan was looking for a hitman to kill his wife for months before the murder.

Detectives working on the case in 1981 were unable to gain sufficient evidence to charge anyone with her murder, despite a painstaking investigation which involved speaking to hundreds of people from the area.

Police at the time generated 7,000 original documents on the case but were never able to bring anyone to justice.

Carol’s murder remained unsolved for decades until detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit re-opened the case in 2018.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Carl Foster - who continued to lead the investigation despite retiring before it reached trial - said: “Carol was killed in a frenzied and sustained attack, suffering horrific injuries which cruelly cut short her life.

“Over the last four decades methods of gathering evidence have changed and improved, but the key in this case has been a change in people’s allegiances and loyalties. As a result, the re-investigation relied on good old-fashioned detective work, retracing the evidence obtained in 1981 and revisiting numerous witnesses.”

Allen was arrested in 2023 and charged with conspiring to kill Carol.

The jury sat for nine weeks to hear the trial, where they heard evidence from people who knew the defendants and victims at the time.

Carol Morgan
Carol Morgan. Picture: Bedfordshire Police

The court heard how the hitman stole cash from a secret drawer in the office, suggesting they had been given inside knowledge. The money was part of the payment for the murder, prosecutors said.

Following Carol's death, Allen and his now-wife Margaret moved to the south coast with Carol’s son and daughter.

Margaret, who also stood trial alongside Allen for conspiracy to murder, was acquitted.

Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Prickett, who led the original investigation for Bedfordshire Police between 1981 and 1983, said: “Carol Morgan’s murder was vicious, and the image of the scene will remain etched in my memory forever.

“The fact this case remained undetected for over four decades has remained a thorn in the side of all the officers who worked on the case. The original investigation spanned two years and even after this time was frequently reviewed. It was a meticulously run operation, with multiple lines of enquiry even before DNA science and other technological advances that we know in policing today.

He added: “I hope that the result will bring some closure to those who knew and loved Carol.

“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.

“Bringing this case to justice has been the right thing to do. Anyone capable of committing such a brutal crime should not be allowed to live freely among our society.

“Allen Morgan has had more than 40 years of freedom that Carol will never have. He has today finally faced justice for the role he played in her murder.

The Det Supt noted that “in the absence of a confession" we may "never know who carried out the physical act of murdering Carol", but police would do "all in our power to secure new evidence and bring them to justice".

Lawyer Shan Saunders, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “For decades, Allen Morgan hid the truth about how Carol died.

“However, when an investigation into her unsolved murder was reopened almost forty years later, a thorough review of the evidence gathered by the original enquiry team together with new evidence from a witness was sufficient to link him to Carol’s death, enabling us to charge him with conspiring to murder her.

“With no CCTV or forensics available, we relied almost exclusively on testimonies from dozens of witnesses during the trial.

"The strength of their evidence was enough for us to prove that Morgan had plotted to kill Carol, and for the jury to subsequently convict him.”

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