London - A married businessman murdered his burlesque-dancer lover after learning she was planning to leave him and fleece him of his fortune, a court heard on Monday.
Millionaire Peter Morgan, 54, met Georgina Symonds, 25, through her work as an escort and started paying her £10,000 a month so she would not see other men.
During their three-year relationship, the father of two lavished Symonds with spa days, expensive full-body liposuction, horse-riding lessons and helicopter rides to his castle.
Eventually the trained beautician moved into one of his properties - a bungalow in the village of Llanmartin, near Newport in South Wales - where he continued to lavish gifts and money on her.
But the property developer - known to Symonds’s friends as Rich Pete - was rapidly consumed by ‘an increasing wish to monitor her, perhaps to the point of obsession’, Newport Crown Court heard.
Two months before her death in January, an ‘increasingly controlling’ Morgan installed a listening device disguised as a plug adaptor, which he used to eavesdrop on her phone conversations.
The device was fitted with a SIM card and recorded her phone calls, allowing the businessman to listen to them when he called a special number. In one exchange, he overheard the mother of one telling another love interest that she planned to leave Morgan once he granted her ownership of the property she was staying in, and would continue to fleece him afterwards.
Records showed Morgan had been listening to Symonds’s phone conversations from November 2015, right up until the morning of the day she was murdered on January 12, the court was told.
Prosecuting, William Hughes QC said on Monday: ‘He did not want her seeing other clients. He wanted her exclusively. His increasing wish was to monitor her, to the point of obsession.’
He added: ‘Morgan told police he heard her mention after she got him to sign over the bungalow to her that she was going to leave him and carry on working as an escort. She said she would continue to fleece him, in his words.’
That became a ‘possible catalyst’ for her murder, the court heard.
Morgan admitted killing Symonds to police officers after they traced her mobile phone to his Porsche Cayenne parked at his farmhouse at Beech Hill Farm in Usk, South Wales, where his wife and daughters live.
He told police: ‘I strangled her this morning. I took her body to Beech Hill Farm. I love her so much.’
He told police he had locked her body in an outhouse, and refused a lawyer after he was arrested, saying: ‘I done it. So there’s no point.’
Symonds's was found wrapped in sheeting in an outbuilding. A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was strangulation.
Hughes said: ‘He planned and decided to kill Georgina the night before. He said he attended her address with the items required assist him in the disposal of her body. In post-arrest interviews he said he made a ligature from twine at his workshop. He knotted both ends and used the homemade ligature to kill Georgina.
‘He went to her home address to kill her and he took duct tape, plastic sheeting to wrap her body and a metal pole to lift and assist him in carrying her body.That metal pole fitted perfectly inside the boot of his Porsche Cayenne motor vehicle.’
The court heard that Morgan had separated from his wife Helen and divorce proceedings were ongoing.
The jury of eight men and four women were told that Symonds worked as an escort after first becoming a pole dancer.
Hughes said: ‘She met Peter Morgan as a client. There was no exclusivity at this stage. She saw other clients and he would use other escorts.
‘But the relationship developed from being a professional one to something a bit more than that.’
Morgan, of Llanellen, near Abergavenny in South Wales, denies murder. The trial is expected to last three weeks.