Man ‘monitored’ girlfriend to point of obsession, murder trial hears
A millionaire property developer strangled his escort girlfriend after becoming "obsessed" with her, a jury heard.
Peter Morgan, 54, from Llanellen, near Abergavenny, lavished Georgina Symonds, 25, with expensive gifts and paid her up to £10,000 per month not to see other men.
He treated her to spa days, helicopter flights, hotel stays and paid for her to have full body liposuction as well as allowing her to live in a bungalow he owned.
Newport Crown Court heard Morgan was controlling and placed a listening device disguised as a plug adapter in the rural property in the months before her death.
Hours before her death, he overheard a phone conversation between Miss Symonds and her new boyfriend, in which she discussed leaving Morgan after "fleecing" him, the court heard.
Father-of-two Morgan is alleged to have strangled Miss Symonds, who he had been in a relationship with for three years, the following morning, January 12.
Her body, wrapped in bags and sheeting, was discovered in outbuildings yards from Beech Hill Farm in Usk, Gwent, where Morgan's wife and two daughters lived.
Morgan denies murdering Miss Symonds at his bungalow where she was living, Castle Bungalow in Pencoed Lane, Llanmartin, Newport.
Prosecuting, William Hughes QC told the jury of eight men and four women: "At the time of her killing, Georgina was 25 and Mr Morgan was 53.
"Georgina worked initially as a dancer and a stripper and then, in time, as an escort.
"It was in her capacity as an escort that Georgina came to meet Peter Morgan, who was her client.
"At that stage, there was no exclusivity between the two - Georgina would see other clients and the defendant would engage the services of other escorts.
"The relationship developed from being a professional one to something more than that.
"The defendant would lavish Georgina with gifts and spend a lot of money on her, including spa days, horse riding, stays in fashionable hotels, taking her on helicopter flights to a castle he owned, buying her a car and paying for full body liposuction costing many thousands of pounds.
"There came a moment when Mr Morgan didn't want Georgina seeing other clients. Peter Morgan wanted exclusivity and as a result was paying Georgina £7,000 to £10,000 per month, including allowing her to live in a property he owned with his estranged wife."
Miss Symonds was reported missing to police after she failed to collect her five-year-old daughter from school in the afternoon of January 12.
Police later discovered Miss Symonds' mobile phone under the front driver's seat of Morgan's Porsche 911 - parked near the home of his estranged wife, the court heard.
Morgan attended the police station and was spoken to by two female police officers at 4.45am of January 13.
He is alleged to have told them: "I can't take this. I need to tell you. I strangled her this morning. I took her body to Beech Hill Farm. She is in a building there. I love her so much."
The businessman was arrested on suspicion of Miss Symonds murder and is said to have directed officers to a key in his jeans.
"You will need those keys," he allegedly told them. "She is locked in an outbuilding."
Officers attended Beech Hill Farm at 6am and discovered Miss Symonds' body wrapped in black plastic and tied with rope, secured to a metal pole.
CCTV images are said to show Morgan carrying his girlfriend's body - using the pole - from the boot of his Porsche Cayenne and into the outbuilding at 9.17am on January 12.
Miss Symonds' legs were bound with tape to hold her knees and thighs, Mr Hughes said.
"The prosecution suggest this was done entirely to ensure that the body fitted into the boot of the Porsche Cayenne," he added.
A black plastic bag found close to her body contained her handbag, two pairs of boots and what appeared to be a plug adapter.
Mr Hughes said the cubic-shaped adapter was in fact a listening device equipped with a sim card, which people could call to listen in.
The number of the sim card was allegedly stored in Morgan's phone as Isobel and he had first called it on November 9 in 2015.
"His calls to this number were increasingly regular once it had been installed," Mr Hughes told the jury.
"This might be indicative of Peter Morgan's increasing need and wish to monitor Georgina to the point of obsession."
Phone records show Morgan phoned the number at 1.49am on the morning of Georgina's alleged murder - overhearing a conversation.
During police interview, Morgan told officers: "Georgina had mentioned that once she had got Mr Morgan to sign the bungalow over to her she was going to leave him and carry on working as an escort and continue to fleece him", Mr Hughes said.
The phone call was between Miss Symonds and her new boyfriend, Thomas Ballinger, the court heard.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of Miss Symond's death was strangulation.
The trial is expected to last for three weeks.