Peter MorganImage copyright Wales News Service

A millionaire has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his £10,000-a-month personal escort after hearing she planned to leave him.

Peter Morgan, 54, of Llanellen, Monmouthshire, strangled Georgina Symonds, 25, in January.

He admitted killing her but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He said he did it to stop her blackmailing him.

Morgan was convicted at Newport Crown Court and must serve at least 25 years.

Judge Mr Justice Garman told Morgan during sentencing: “You have been convicted of the murder by strangulation of Georgina Symonds. The murder of a woman you said you loved.

“In my judgement this was carefully planned and calmly executed.

“You killed her out of cold anger at what you discovered she had done and out of fear of what she might do.”

He added: “When listening in to her conversations, you learned that she had absolutely no respect for you, and absolutely no time for you. You might have loved her – she didn’t even like you.”

Image copyright Wales News Service

In mitigation, Morgan’s defence barrister, Patrick Harrington QC, told the judge his client suffered from a mental disorder and had been provoked by prolonged stress.

The judge agreed Morgan had a “mild form” of Asperger syndrome but said the plans he made for killing Miss Symonds “demonstrate perfectly clearly that you retained self-control”.

He did however acknowledge Morgan was provoked, saying the abuse he suffered was “vicious, persistent and extreme” and the threat of blackmail by Miss Symonds was “gross and appalling and an abuse of trust.”

Morgan paid Miss Symonds, from the Allt-yr-yn area of Newport, up to £10,000 a month to be his personal escort and described himself as a “sugar daddy”.

She was reported missing after she failed to pick up her daughter from school.

Morgan admitted killing Miss Symonds after officers traced her mobile phone to his Porsche parked at his farmhouse near Usk, Monmouthshire.

He claimed he confiscated her phone to stop her buying drugs, but when asked whether he had killed her, he told detectives: “Yes. I don’t know why I done it.”

He handed over keys to a farm workshop to officers and told them: “You will need those keys – she’s locked in the outhouse.”

Police found her body wrapped in plastic.

Media captionMorgan told officers: ‘Well, I, I, I had intention to kill her, didn’t I? Well I done it’

Morgan, worth an estimated £20m, said he started seeing escorts during a “mid-life crisis”, and had never planned to see anyone more than once until he met Miss Symonds.

He claimed she threatened to release explicit photos of him to his family if he did not transfer money to her and sign over a bungalow he was letting her stay in rent free at Pencoed Castle, Llanmartin.

He said he loved Miss Symonds and she had been like a “best friend”, though he always knew she would leave him if the money stopped.

Using a listening device in her home disguised as a plug adaptor, he heard her tell another love interest on the phone she would leave Morgan after he signed over his bungalow to her.

The court was told he considered poisoning her with antifreeze as a way to get her to hospital to see a doctor about her drug use.

He said he was concerned about Miss Symonds’ cocaine habit and suicide threats.

Image caption Georgina Symonds had been living in a bungalow at Pencoed Castle that was owned by Morgan

Despite saying “I done it” to police after he was arrested, he always maintained he was not responsible for his actions due to Asperger syndrome.

But a jury dismissed this claim following a three-week trial.

Miss Symonds’ mother, Deborah, said her killing had been a “devastating tragedy” for the family.

“Her [Georgina’s] beautiful daughter has been left without a mum. Georgina has left a hole in our lives that will never be repaired. All of our happy memories will be kept forever in our hearts,” she added.

Speaking after the verdict was delivered, Det Supt Roger Fortey, of Gwent Police, said: “This is a tragic case that resulted in the death of Georgina, the loss of a mother, daughter, sister and friend to many.

“The actions of Peter Morgan were calculated and he committed the act without emotion.”

Media captionIn a statement read by police, Miss Symonds’ family said her death had left a “hole in our lives”

Source: BBC