Apprentice accused of murdering schoolboy, 15, 'told friend blood on trousers was nosebleed'

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
Alex Rodda, left, was found dead in 2019. (PA/Cheshire Constabulary/Google Maps)
Alex Rodda, left, was found dead in 2019, and Matthew Mason denies his murder at Chester Crown Court, right. (PA/Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School & Sixth Form College/Google Maps)

A mechanic accused of bludgeoning to death a boy he was allegedly in a sexual relationship with told friends that spots of blood on his clothes came from a nosebleed, a court has heard.

Apprentice Matthew Mason, 19, of Ollerton, is accused of murdering Alex Rodda, 15, having allegedly paid him more than £2,000 to prevent him reporting their relationship.

Chester Crown Court has heard that he invited the schoolboy to the woods near Ashley, Cheshire, on 12 December under “the pretence of sexual activity” before killing him with a wrench “in cold blood”.

Prosecutor Ian Unsworth said Mason and Rodda were in an “intimate sexual relationship”, with the latter being underage.

Mason denies murdering Rodda, who attended Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School.

Matthew Mason denies murdering Alex Rodda (pictured). (PA/Cheshire Constabulary)
Alex Rodda was bludgeoned to death. (PA/Cheshire Constabulary)

On Tuesday, the court heard Mason had searched online for “what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs”, “everyday poison” and “the mysteries of Cheshire unsolved deaths of missing people”.

Unsworth said this showed Mason, who lived with his family on a farm near Knutsford at the time, “had murder on his mind”.

Rodda told a friend he was meeting a “guy” who wanted to take him to a forest, and he was picked up by Mason, the court heard.

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Mason drove them to the woodland where Rodda’s body was later found, the jury was told.

“It was during that time that the prosecution suggest that Alex was subjected to a brutal, horrific and violent attack at the hands of this defendant,” Unsworth said.

The court was told that Mason then went to meet friends at the Red Lion pub in Pickmere, telling friends the blood spots on his jeans came from a nosebleed, before moving on to a Young Farmers meeting at a pub in Plumley.

Unsworth said he “appeared to be his normal happy self”, left the pub at about 9.30pm and later sent his girlfriend a goodnight photo of himself smiling.

When Rodda did not pick up his phone, his mother Lisa called friends and Mason told her that her son had gone to Manchester.

CCTV played to jurors showed Mason’s car returning to the woods after 1am, where it remained for an hour.

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Defending Mason, Gordon Cole QC said jurors would have to consider if the killing was self-defence or if there was a loss of control.

He said Rodda “persuaded” his client to engage in sexual acts then blackmailed him, forcing Mason to borrow from family members.

“On the day of the events you will be concerned with, Matthew Mason agreed to meet Alex Rodda. He intended to say that this behaviour, this blackmail, had to stop,” Cole said.

Mason armed himself with a wrench to frighten Rodda, Cole added.

“The violence that commenced in the woods was, we will suggest, violence started by Alex Rodda,” he said.

Previously, jurors were told that Rodda informed a friend he was receiving money from Mason for sex and would report him to police if the payments stopped.

Mason had paid £2,020 by 23 November 2019, the court heard.

His friend compared it to “blackmail” and Unsworth said Mason “was complaining that the payments were cleaning him out”.

Rodda was attacked with a wrench and suffered 15 heavy blows across his body, Unsworth said.

He was found partially clothed by a team of refuse collectors the next morning.

The trial continues.