January 2021

Man, 19, guilty of murdering schoolboy he paid £2,000 to keep silent

A 19-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering a schoolboy after paying more than £2,000 to try to stop him revealing their sexual relationship.

Matthew Mason admitted bludgeoning 15-year-old Alex Rodda to death with a wrench in woods in Cheshire on 12 December 2019.

The court heard they had been involved in a brief sexual relationship before Rodda told Mason’s girlfriend that the older teenager had sent him explicit photos and a video.

Mason argued at trial that he had experienced a loss of control during the killing and had been blackmailed by Rodda, who he claimed had tried to attack him before his death.

He was found guilty of murder by a majority of jurors at Chester crown court last Thursday. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Mason, an architectural engineering student, wept in the dock as the guilty verdict was returned. He previously told jurors he had asked friends and family for money to pay Rodda but did not tell them what it was for. He said he was embarrassed and worried after having sex with the younger boy, adding that he thought it was wrong “because he was a male and, secondly, his age”.

The trial heard Rodda had contacted Mason’s then girlfriend 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 Rodda’s bank account at around the same time, amounting to more than £2,200 by the time of Rodda’s death.

The court heard Mason had searched the internet for phrases including “what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs” and “everyday poison”. He said he was looking for ways to kill himself as he felt depressed and suicidal following the end of his relationship with his girlfriend.

The court heard that Mason picked the younger boy up from his home in Tabley, Cheshire, and drove him to a remote spot on the night of the murder.

Mason, who lived on his family’s farm near Knutsford, Cheshire, said he told Rodda that he could not afford to give him any more money. He said he had taken a wrench with him because he felt intimidated by the teenager and wanted to scare him.

Mason claimed that Rodda had grabbed the wrench from him and pushed him to the floor. Evidence showed that Rodda had been struck at least 15 times in what was described by the prosecution as a brutal attack.