A missing Northumberland heiress was murdered for her money by a lover who fleeced her and her parents out of their estate, a court heard.
Janet Brown “disappeared from the face of the earth” in 2005 and no trace of her has ever been found.
Prosecutors claim Donald Graham murdered the 45-year-old in order to get his hands on her estate in an “audacious fraud” to fund his love of luxury cars and to buy his new lover a house.
He had persuaded Janet to transfer £300,000 into his account and the money landed just a day before she disappeared.
It is claimed Graham killed her, disposed of her body then fleeced Janet and her elderly parents out of their estate.
Graham, 59 - who drove a Ferrari, a Porsche and a Range Rover despite allegedly being short of cash - denies murdering Janet between June 14 and 18, 2005.
Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, told jurors at Newcastle Crown Court Janet had “effectively disappeared from the face of the earth” and Europe-wide searches had revealed no trace of her.
She had been due to go on holiday to France with Graham, her married lover of eight years, but he had cancelled at the last minute, falsely claiming his wife was ill.
In fact he had met another woman, Elizabeth Todd, who is accused of helping him commit fraud by making phone calls pretending to be Janet and helping to forge her father Eric’s will.
Janet decided to go on holiday alone but was allegedly killed before she left her home in Hexham, Northumberland, and has never been seen since.
Mr Smith said: “The prosecution say there is no other reasonable explanation for Janet’s disappearance than that she is dead and that she was killed by Donald Graham in order that he could utilise her assets and those of her parents to fund his lifestyle.
“The prosecution case is that Donald Graham had a number of motives for killing her, which are mainly financial and are closely bound up with his relationship with another woman who he met shortly before Janet Brown’s disapperance. He formed an association with this woman, who is the second defendant, and became infatuated with her.
“By the time the holiday came around he was no longer interested in Janet’s affections. He was, however, interested in her money.
“Donald Graham knew Janet had a considerable amount of money in bank accounts and he wanted that money so he could lead a lifestyle that suited him, owning and driving expensive cars which he couldn’t otherwise afford, and buying a property for Elizabeth Todd to live in.”
The court heard Graham was driving a Ferrari Modena and had also had a Porsche and a Range Rover.
Mr Smith said Graham took advantage of the fact Janet was due to go abroad in order to kill her and make it appear she had just decided not to return.
The prosecutor said: “In due course he or someone on his behalf arranged for postcards to be sent to Janet’s elderly parents saying she had settled in Europe and that she had a job. Not one of these letters or cards bore any phone number or contact details.
“In fact Graham went to France with his wfe on a number of occasions following the disappearance of Janet and had every opportunity to falsify the correspondence.”
It is claimed Graham also ingratiated himself with Janet’s elderly parents after her death and started systematically stripping their estate and assets.
It is alleged he used his visits to gain access to Janet’s security codes and also sold her Porsche and other cars.
After retired accountant Mr Brown and his wife died, building society staff became suspicious that withdrawls were still being made and police were called.
Property developer and part time film extra and mystery shopper Janet, who drove a private-plated Porsche, lived in a converted barn at her parents’ home, Plane Trees Farm, in Lowgate, near Hexham, with her dog Katie.
Graham, of Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval, denies murder and a joint charge with Todd of perverting the course of justice, by Todd allegedly making phone calls pretending to be Janet. Todd, 51, also of Elsdon Avenue, also denies forgery, an allegation she faked Janet’s father’s will. She further denies conspiracy to commit fraud the will.
Janet, who worked as a film extra, was living at her parents’ farm in the Lowgate area outside Hexham at the time of her disappearance.
The trial continues.