A farmer’s son has today been found guilty of murdering a 15-year-old in a ‘ferocious and merciless attack’ after the schoolboy threatened to make their sexual affair public.
Matthew Mason lured Alex Rodda to remote woodland near the village of Ashley in Cheshire with the promise of sex before beating him to death with a wrench.
Mason had been involved in an intimate sexual relationship with Alex, but the 15-year-old had allegedly threatened to reveal their relationship after finding out Mason had been dating a girl for two years.
In the week before the murder, Mason made internet searches for phrases including ‘what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs’, ‘everyday poison’ and ‘The mysteries of Cheshire unsolved deaths of missing people’.
He told the court he did not believe his friends would accept him if he was gay or bisexual.
Alex’s semi-naked body was found by refuse collectors on December 13 last year. His head and body had suffered at least 15 blows.
Mason admitted hitting Alex with the wrench but denied murder, arguing he acted in self-defence and that he had lost control after being provoked.
Today, Mason, now 19, from Ollerton in Knutsford, Cheshire, was found guilty of murder.
Matthew Mason, 19, (left) admitted bludgeoning 15-year-old Alex Rodda (right) to death with a wrench in woods in Ashley, Cheshire, on December 12 2019
The 19-year-old had used a heavy and long wrench to repeatedly beat Alex to the head and body with an estimated 15 separate blows
Mason went into the woods and dragged Alex’s body to the track at the side of the road in an attempt to put him inside his car. After failing to do this he then drove away. Mason had dried blood on his hands and fingers and inside the boot of his car was a bin bag with his blood stained green fleece, the wrench and Alex’s large padded jacket
Mason drove 15-year-old Alex Rodda to a remote wooded area in Ashley, Cheshire and subjected him to a ferocious and merciless attack
Matthew Mason (pictured left), 19, bludgeoned Alex Rodda (right), 15, to death with a wrench in Ashley, Cheshire, on December 12 last year. Mason admitted hitting Rodda with the wrench but denied murder
The trial, which began on December 7, heard Alex had contacted Mason’s then girlfriend, Caitlyn Lancashire, in November 2019 and told her he had been sending ‘flirty’ messages and an explicit picture and video.
Mason denied the allegations to his girlfriend but began making payments to Alex’s bank account at around the same time.
By the time of Alex’s death, Mason had transferred more than £2,200 and was asking friends and family to borrow money, the court heard.
Mason, who lived with his family on a farm near Knutsford, admitted having sex with Alex but said he thought it was ‘wrong’.
The agricultural engineering student, who was involved in the Young Farmer’s group, said he was straight but began questioning his sexuality following messages from Alex.
On the evening of December 12 he said he had picked Alex up from his home in Tabley, Cheshire, and driven him to the remote spot where he told him he could not afford to give him any more money.
Mason said he had taken the wrench with him because he felt ‘intimidated’ by Alex and intended to use it to ‘scare’ him.
He claimed once they were in the woods Alex had threatened to ruin his life ‘financially or socially’ and pushed him to the floor, grabbing the wrench and hitting Mason with it.
The order of service from the 15-year-old’s funeral on Wednesday 29 January, 2020
Alex’s mother Lisa Rodda, pictured arriving at Chester Crown Court in December
Mason said he managed to get the wrench from Alex and remembered hitting him with it twice, although later in his evidence he recalled details of further blows.
Evidence showed Alex had been struck at least 15 times in what was described by the prosecution as a ‘brutal’ attack.
The court heard following the attack Mason left the scene and went to a friend’s farm to clean up and then to two pubs where he met friends.
He admitted leaving Alex while he was unconscious and throwing his phone out of the car window.
The court heard Mason, who returned to the scene later that night, was arrested the following day after Alex’s body was discovered by refuse collectors.
Mason will be sentenced at a later date.