A teenager lured his schoolboy lover to remote woodland with the promise of sex and bludgeoned him to death with a wrench, a murder trial was told today.
Matthew Mason, an apprentice mechanic, then aged 18, is said to have paid his 15-year-old victim, Alex Rodda, more than £2,000 over a three-week period following an alleged threat by his victim to reveal their relationship.
Mr Rodda was said to have told his lover Mason that he would report him to police if the payments stopped. He was warned this was ‘akin to blackmail’, a jury was told.
Mason drove Mr Rodda to remote woodland and inflicted at least 15 blows with a long wrench, a court heard.
Alex Rodda’s body was found dead near the Cheshire village of Ashley, near Hale Barns, on December 13 last year
Mr Rodda’s semi-naked body was found dead near the Cheshire village of Ashley, near Hale Barns, on December 13 last year.
A court heard the 15-year-old pupil had been involved in an intimate sexual relationship with Matthew Mason, then age 18.
He had ‘threatened’ to reveal their relationship after finding out Mason had been dating a girl for two years, the jurors were told.
Mason, now 19, of Ash Lane in Knutsford, Cheshire, denies murder.
Opening the prosecution case at Chester Crown Court on Monday, Ian Unsworth QC told the court: ‘One night in the middle of December of last year, Alexander Rodda, a 15-year-old schoolboy from Knutsford, was reported missing after failing to return home.
Matthew Mason, then 18, drove Mr Rodda to remote woodland and inflicted at least 15 blows with a long wrench, a court heard
‘Alex, as he was known to his family and friends, had gone out with the defendant, Matthew Mason, earlier that evening. Alex was never to return. He would be killed at the hands of the defendant.
‘The defendant was 18 at the time. He and Alex had become close and, we suggest, they enjoyed an intimate sexual relationship.
‘For reasons, you may conclude, borne out of that relationship, the defendant took Alex to a remote wooded area near Ashley, not far from Bowdon in Cheshire. There, the defendant used a heavy and long wrench to beat Alex to the head and body over and over again.
Matthew Mason (right) leaving Chester Crown court on December 7 2020. Charged with Murder of Alex Rodda in Knutsford in December 2019
Matthew Mason (right) arriving at Chester Crown court, December 7 2020. Mason, now 19, of Ash Lane in Knutsford, Cheshire, denies murder.
Mason arrives in a prison van at South Cheshire Magistrates’ Court in Crewe, December 2019
‘The attack was brutal and merciless. The overall pattern of the injuries was indicative of a violent repetitive assault with that wrench estimated to have involved the landing of at least 15 separate heavy blows.
‘Alex did not stand a chance. His life ended in those woods. His partially clothed abandoned young body was discovered by a team of refuse collectors the next morning.
‘His clothing: his trousers and underwear gathered around his ankles, suggested that he may have been engaged in some form of sexual activity prior to the attack and thus, may well have been highly vulnerable at that time.
‘The case for the prosecution is that Matthew Mason took Alexander Rodda to the woods on the pretence of sexual activity and then murdered him in cold blood.’
Mr Rodda had revealed to someone the defendant was paying him for sex, said the prosecutor
The defendant had messaged Mr Rodda via Instagram and a relationship which began with a kiss developed into sex, the court was told
The month before the attack, on November 3, Mr Rodda messaged Mason’s girlfriend of two years and and told her ‘Matt’ had been trying to contact him, the jurors were told.
Mr Rodda was said have told her in the message: ‘Because I thought I should let you know that the past 2-3 weeks matt has been trying to message me he came to my house in his car to meet me last week but I told him my dad wouldn’t let me out so I didn’t meet him, I have told him it has to stop but just thought I’d let you know before he does a d***head move and I didn’t know he was dating you until I went to go follow him on lnstagram.’
The jurors heard that Alex suggested the defendant had also sent him a ‘d*** pic’.
The defendant had denied sending this to Mr Rodda but had asked Mr Rodda not to publicly post anything as Mr Rodda was ‘threatening to do so’, said the prosecutor.
The funeral of 15-year-old Alex Rodda took place January 29 at St James’ Church in Audlem
The funeral of Mr Rodda who was found dead near the Cheshire village of Ashley, near Hale Barns, on December 13 last year
The morning he contacted the defendant’s girlfriend Mason added ‘Alexander Rodda’ as a new payee on his bank account, the jurors were told.
He paid £50 into the schoolboy’s account the next day, the first of a series of payments totalling £2,020 by November 23, the court was told.
Mr Rodda had revealed to someone the defendant was paying him for sex, said the prosecutor.
He was warned it was ‘wrong’ and ‘akin to blackmail’.
But he was said to have vowed to report the defendant to police if the payments stopped, the court was told.
Forensic officers were combing woodland for clues after he was found dead in Ashley, Cheshire, December 13, 2019
Mr Rodda revealed on at least five occasions that he had had sex with Mason, said the QC.
The defendant had messaged Mr Rodda via Instagram and a relationship which began with a kiss developed into sex, the court was told.
The jurors were told about an incident when Mr Rodda’s mother arrived home to find the teenager ‘flustered’ and a strange man, the defendant, inside her home.
The schoolboy had not told his mother about the relationship and she warned him to stay away from him, the QC told the court.
The trial continues.