A TEEN today sobbed in court after he was found guilty of battering his 15-year-old lover to death over a £2,000 blackmail plot to expose their sexual relationship.
Matthew Mason, 19, used a spanner to murder Alex Rodda in remote woodland in Cheshire on December 12 last year.
The killer had lured his schoolboy lover on the "pretence of sexual activity" before bludgeoning him in "cold blood".
Alex was later found partially clothed by refuse collectors after he was reported missing.
Today, a jury of seven women and five men found Mason guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two at Chester Crown Court.
Mason appeared to be crying in the dock following the verdict. Members of Alex's family were also in tears, as were two of the jurors.
Honorary recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett thanked the jury and said: "No-one can pretend this has been an easy case."
In a statement, Alex's family said: "Our son Alex was a wonderful, gentle, loving, kind, caring, respectful boy who loved life and lived life to the full.
"His precious life was cut short all too soon at the hands of Matthew Mason.
"Mason admitted killing Alex from the outset of this trial but still felt the need to put us through the trauma of this trial in an attempt to minimise his sentence.
"He never once considered the pain it would put our family through, or indeed his own family.
"We have never come across a more selfish, cold and calculating person.
"Mason has attempted to blame Alex and discredit his name throughout this trial, and thankfully the jury were able to see through his web of deceit."
His precious life was cut short all too soon at the hands of Matthew Mason."
Jurors heard how Mason, who lived with his millionaire parents on a farm near Knutsford, had began messaging Alex in October 2019.
The texts soon turned sexual and Mason sent his Year 11 lover an explicit photo and video after getting drunk.
But Alex threatened to post the messages online and messaged Mason's girlfriend of two years on November 3.
He wrote: "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.”
He then asked Mason for £50 to stop him putting the screenshot on social media.
By November 23, Mason had paid £2,020 to Alex as he was "embarrassed about what had happened".
On December 12, Mason tricked Alex into meeting him in the woods in a murderous plot to silence him.
Once there, he beat Alex repeatedly in a "brutal and merciless" attack – reigning at least 15 blows on the schoolboy's head.
Prosecutor Ian Unsworth QC said: "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."
The monster teen left stricken Alex for dead in the woods even though he could see he was still breathing.
He then made his way to a pal's home to clean himself up and visited friends in two pubs – posting a selfie from one to "lay the ground" for an alibi.
But after Alex's body was discovered, cops arrested the teen and found dried blood on his hands and fingers and the bood-stained weapon in his car.
Evil Mason admitted he hit the Holmes Chapel High School pupil at least 15 times but claimed he was acting in self defence after Alex hit him first.
The sicko also returned to the woods hours later to move Alex's body.
He told jurors during his trial: "When I eventually got control of myself again I remember kneeling on the ground with the spanner in my hand and Alex was lying on the floor, still breathing, quite clearly very injured."
"I felt sick. I couldn't believe it, I was in shock."
But police found chilling searches he carried out on the web – including for "everyday poison" and "mysteries of Cheshire unsolved deaths of missing people".
He also looked up "what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs" just days before the killing.
'HE WAS SOULLESS'
During the trial, Alex's mum revealed how she had warned her son to "stay away" from Mason after she saw them both together at their home.
Lisa Rodda said: "When I looked into that boy's eyes, I have never ever in my life felt fear… my whole body felt fear.
"His eyes were soulless. He was cold and soulless. He already had that motive in his mind."
She added: "I said to Alex 'stay away from that man'. I felt it, what he was going to do to my boy, I felt it."
Paying tribute to her son, Lisa explained how he was a "miracle baby" for her and ex-husband Adam.
She said: "Alex was very very special.
"He was just such a joy to be around. He was just so gentle.
"He was a mummy's boy, he was always hugging me and always calling me 'mummy' up until the day he left."
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