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'Controlling' man stabbed ex-girlfriend and her new partner to death, court told

A "controlling" man stabbed his ex-girlfriend and her new partner to death outside the shop where they worked, a court heard.

Andrew Saunders, 21, previously pleaded guilty to killing Matalan employees Zoe Morgan, 21, and Lee Simmons, 33.

The couple were found dead close to the fashion chain's store in Queen Street in Cardiff city centre on September 28.

Prosecuting, Philip Bennett QC told Cardiff Crown Court that Miss Morgan and Saunders had previously been in a relationship.

"Shortly before six in the morning Zoe Morgan and her partner Lee Simmons were standing outside their place of work, Matalan in Queen Street in Cardiff, when the defendant attacked Mr Simmons, stabbing him repeatedly with a knife," Mr Bennett said.

"Zoe Morgan ran but the defendant caught up with her outside Boots where he repeatedly stabbed her.

"Zoe Morgan and Lee Simmons subsequently died as a result of their injuries."

Miss Morgan and Saunders were together from June 2014 until July 2016, when she ended the relationship.

"Mark Morgan, her father, stated it was obvious from very early on in the relationship that Andy was very controlling to Zoe," Mr Bennett said.

On one occasion, Miss Morgan told her father that Saunders had "grabbed her around the throat" during an argument, the prosecutor added.

She began dating Mr Simmons, who she met while working at Matalan, in July 2016.

When Miss Morgan told Saunders their relationship was over, he accused her of cheating on him, adding: "You are definitely chatting to someone else. I will kill whoever it is."

The court heard Saunders began searching for revenge online and, days later, sent Miss Morgan a photograph of the back of her house.

He told Miss Morgan that he had contacted Mr Simmons on Facebook, telling him that he would kill him and "smash his f****** head in".

In further messages on the social networking site, Saunders was abusive to his ex-girlfriend but told her "I love you still as I just do".

Mr Bennett said that in the weeks leading up to the murders, Saunders searched on Google for "the easiest way to kill a person", "how many years for killing a person", "16 steps to kill someone and not get caught" and "how long do murderers serve in prison".

Saunders also searched for guns and how to make pipe bombs, the court heard.

On September 20, Saunders purchased two knives and latex gloves from Morrisons. These were later used in the attack, Mr Bennett said.

The court heard Saunders attempted to identify Mr Simmons' car registration and discovered his full address, repeatedly looking at his Facebook profile.

On September 21, Saunders searched online for: "is it as easy to slice someone's throat as they make it look in movies and TV shows".

He also looked for "how to blow up a car without being caught" and "how can a car be rigged to explode when started".

Saunders visited Queen Street in the early hours of September 26, where he appeared agitated and asked a woman for a cigarette.

The following day, he purchased an air rifle and 500 pellets from a shop in Cardiff.

In the early hours of September 28, he searched online for "motivation for killing", "motivation for revenge" and "revenge motivational video".

"His final web searches were 'how to slice a neck' and 'how to smoke a cigar'," Mr Bennett told the court.

Saunders left a letter at his home, suggesting that he was intending to take his own life.

"You know you are messed up when you think like I do," he wrote.

"Thinking of shooting up Cardiff every day for months and years is pretty dark.

"I think Isis is the good guys most of the time and that is just messed up. No-one will forget me."

Saunders left his home at 4.41am and was seen standing by phone boxes near Matalan at 5.30am.

Saunders, with his hood up, was seen walking towards Matalan where Miss Morgan and Mr Simmons were waiting.

He took an eight inch knife from his rucksack and began attacking Mr Simmons, who was saying "please", "help, help, help" and "stop, stop".

Saunders replied "f*** off" and continued to stab Mr Simmons, the court heard.

"Zoe Morgan tried to pull the defendant off Mr Simmons," Mr Bennett said.

Saunders told her to get off before warning her: "I'm coming for you next."

"At this point Mr Simmons struggled to his knees," Mr Bennett said.

"The defendant punched him. Mr Simmons collapsed to the floor and did not move from that point.

"Zoe Morgan started screaming and she ran away towards Boots."

Saunders took a second knife, measuring approximately ten inches, from his rucksack and ran after Miss Morgan.

After fatally stabbing her, Saunders walked "casually" up to Mr Simmons and picked up the knife by him.

"The police and paramedics attended the scene," Mr Bennett said. "There was a search for the defendant. He could not be found."

Miss Morgan and Mr Simmons were pronounced dead a short time later.

Saunders phoned his mother for 11 minutes at 5.58am before driving through the gates at his family home at 6.10am.

At 6.17am he texted his father: "Thanks for being a pathetic, useless father. Just killed two people. Cheers."

His sister called 999, reporting that Saunders had arrived home with blood on him and had a gun, saying that he had killed Miss Morgan and Mr Simmons.

At 6.30am Saunders posted "F***" on Facebook, later adding: "Product of society."

Police attended his home and arrested Saunders, who told them: "I'm sorry, you know sometimes you just snap," before asking "are they both dead?".

In custody, Saunders asked: "Are they both dead? I just want to know for peace of mind."

A post-mortem examination found Mr Simmons and Miss Morgan both suffered eight stab wounds.

Representing Saunders, Winston Roddick QC said his client was in "emotional turmoil" at the time of the offence.

He said: "Given his adolescence he found it very, very difficult to manage the emotional situation he was in."

Mr Roddick said the end of the relationship with Miss Morgan had a significant effect on Saunders, who he said had been described by a school tutor as a "gentle giant" who had "great potential".

The court heard how Saunders told a doctor that finding out Miss Morgan was seeing someone else was heartbreaking.

He left suicide notes before killing Miss Morgan and Mr Saunders.

Mr Roddick said Saunders wanted to pursue a career in sport and added: "He is genuinely remorseful for what he has done and more than once said he wishes to turn the clock back."

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE will sentence Saunders, who pleaded guilty to the two murders, on Tuesday.


From Belfast Telegraph