A hitman allegedly hired by a couple to murder the man’s shopkeeper wife more than 40 years ago had “inside knowledge” about where money was kept, a jury heard today.

The killer, who has never been caught, used an axe or machete to attack Carol Morgan in the store room of Morgan's Food Fare in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, on the evening of August 13, 1981.

Luton Crown Court was told Carol’s husband Allen and his now wife Margaret Morgan, both of Stanstead Crescent, Woodingdean, had been in a “passionate, but forbidden and adulterous love affair” and hatched a plan to murder the 36-year-old mother-of-two.

Prosecutor Pavlos Panayi KC told the jury that a desk drawer in the shop where £400 was being kept had “a secret mechanism” that would not open unless another, middle drawer, was moved into an exact position.

When questioned by the police Allen Morgan said the £400 cash had been taken from the desk, £35 from the till, along with 1,400 cigarettes from the shop. He described the desk mechanism as a “Chinese puzzle” that only he and possibly Carol knew how to work.

Mr Panayi asked the jury: “How did a random intruder know where the money was and how to access it?

The Argus: Carol Morgan was found dead in her shopCarol Morgan was found dead in her shop (Image: PA)

“The killer had some inside information before entering the premises. The obvious conclusion was that the killer was told by Allen Morgan where he would find the cash which may well have constituted part-payment for the murder.”

Allen Morgan, 73, who walks with a stick, and his second wife Margaret Morgan, now 75, deny conspiracy to murder.

Mr Panayi said both defendants had made unexplained cash withdrawals in the days leading up to the murder. He said on the day of the killing, Allen Morgan told the police he was asleep when in fact he was seen at a branch of Nationwide withdrawing £250, which is the equivalent of more than £900 today.

The Argus: Allen Morgan at the time of his wife's deathAllen Morgan at the time of his wife's death (Image: PA)

Outlining the case against the couple, who had been having a year-long affair, he said: “The murder of Carol Morgan was no random attack. It was planned and paid for by the two defendants in the dock.”

Mr Panayi said the jury will hear from Jane Bunting, who was 17 at the time of the killing. She will allege that in a pub, Allen asked if she knew anyone who could help him kill his wife.

He said on the evening of the killing Allen had made the “unprecedented” decision to take Carol’s two children,  Dean and Jane, to the cinema in Luton, providing himself with an alibi and an opportunity for the killer.

It was alleged that Margaret could not leave her husband because Allen would not be able to financially support her unless Carol died.

Mr Panayi said a witness would tell the jury she overheard a man in a pub in Dunstable brag about how he got £500 and between 500 and 1000 cigarettes “for a job in Leighton Buzzard.”

The woman is alleged to have seen Allen Morgan talking to him twice in Leighton Buzzard.

The jury was also played secret police recordings of conversations between the couple when they were being taken in for questioning in 2019.

Margaret was heard to say “shush”, indicating she thought they were being taped. He said  “I am sorry” and “ I don’t want to say anything because they might have.”

On July 25 last year as they were travelling again to the police station he said: “I am sorry. I haven’t done anything.”

Margaret said: “Stop going over it. They are probably listening in.”

Alan said:  “I ain’t done nothing. Neither of us has. I don’t know what they have got.”

She replied: “Well they must have something.”

The trial continues.