Chilling messages between 15-year-old Alex Rodda and his teenage lover who murdered him have been revealed for the first time.
Alex Rodda, 15, was murdered by Matthew Mason, 19, who beat the popular schoolboy to death with a large metal wrench in what was described to the court as a ‘violent, repetitive assault with a blunt weapon’.
It was a murder case in which messages – online and text – were at the heart of the tragic events.
Mason had been having underage sex with Alex – and was desperate to stop his secret from coming out, reports the Manchester Evening News.
From their initial contact on Facebook and Snapchat, to text arguments over money, to a tragic Facetime chat minutes before Alex met his death, communication uncovered by police investigation charted how the ‘relationship’ between the two boys began, and violently unravelled – in just six weeks.
“I started getting messages late at night and I was in bed and (Alex) asked if I had any clothes on. I did respond, thought nothing of it,” Mason, of Ollerton, Knutsford, told the jury at Chester Crown Court.
Mason had known Alex at Holmes Chapel High School – and was three years his senior. On the surface they had little in common.
Alex was openly gay and gregarious. Mason was quiet, from an affluent churchgoing family, an outdoorsy, farmer’s son, who had left high school to study at college.
Despite that, according to Mason – and we only have his word for it – Alex reached out to him on Facebook in late October 2019.
At first the conversations were brief and polite, Mason told jurors, with them both asking how their days were going, but, after about a week the messages turned more intimate.
According to Mason, Alex complimented him – telling him he was ‘fit’ and then they began swapping pictures on Snapchat.
One night, drunk after a night out at the pub, Mason sent Alex a ‘d*** pic’ – he would later claim that Alex had asked him to.
He also sent a video of himself masturbating.
Those messages would have devastating consequences – leaving one teenager dead, and another facing life in jail for murder.
Days later, Alex messaged Mason’s then-girlfriend, Caitlyn Lancashire, exposing their illicit liaison.
On November 3, he wrote: “Are you going out with Matt Mason?”, to which she replied: “Yes”.
Alex then replied: “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.”
Meanwhile, Alex messaged Mason, apparently explaining why he had contacted it’s girlfriend.
“Because it’s wrong”, Alex told him, adding: “u have a gf that loves [you], there’s no need to speak to me.”
An hour later, Alex told Mason: “Look, your gf loves you. She doesn’t know what to think because she [and] you were together for 2 years like wtf if u were that serious u should not of got your d*** out at the end of the day.
“U need to tell your gf the truth Matt because I already have.”
At that point, the relationship between the teenagers took a disturbing turn.
Later that day, Mason added Alex as a payee to his bank account and transferred him £50.
That came minutes after Alex told Mason that he still had the ‘d*** pic’ Mason had drunkenly sent him, and suggested he would post it online.
“Remember when you sent me ur d* n u w*** oh yeah i got the picture you sent.
“Don’t lie now there’s no point Matt I’ve got the proof.”
When Mason denied this, he said: “I will literally put your d*** on my story and @ you if you don’t stop lying.”
Mason then said: “I’m talking to her please don’t Alex.”
Mason, at this point, had been dumped by his girlfriend, following her conversation with Alex.
Despite the apparent animosity between them, on November 9 Alex performed a sex act on Mason. In the first two weeks of that month, Mason paid Alex a total of £1,270, with the payments linked to sexual encounters.
Alex’s girlfriends, in whom he confided, became increasingly concerned.
Friends of Alex, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police that they knew what Alex doing ‘wasn’t right’, but said he ‘still did it’.
In one message, a friend said: “you actually need to stop though it’s not fair, if he doesn’t pay you what will you do?”
“Tell the fed n get him on sex offenders” Alex replied.
His friend replied: “and then he says you blackmailed him, and you get into shit, yeah great plan.
“It’s a criminal offence when are you going to stop seriously.”
“Love you gorgeous, give you £50 for xmas xx” Alex replied.
In a video interview, one friend said: “I think he [Mason] just went round when Alex’s mum was out. She wasn’t there a lot as she was working. There were five occasions I know about.
“He said that Matt didn’t want anyone to know he was gay because he was in the Young Farmers and stuff. He didn’t want his family to know.
“I was just confused about where he [Alex] was getting the money from.
Alex was speaking to his girlfriends frequently about his new ‘relationship’. It boosted his confidence, with friends recalling how he seemed to be ‘glowing’ with it at school.
Messages between him and Mason show that Alex was asking for more money from him as time went on, however.
At one point Mason told Alex he was ‘skint’ and ‘couldn’t afford it’, but then went on to pay the schoolboy £700.
Georgia Wiseman, a close friend of Alex’s, told the jury that she thought he ‘saw it as a game’, stating: “The difference between him being a child and an adult – he was naive. I don’t think he understood the concept of everything.”
On December 7, just five days before Alex was killed, Matthew Mason came face to face with the schoolboy’s mother.
On seeing Mason in her home when she returned from being out, Lisa Rodda’s blood ran cold.
She later described him as having ‘cold and soulless eyes’.
“When I looked into that boy’s eyes, I have never ever in my life felt fear… my whole body felt fear,” she said.
“He was like a robot”.
Text messages would later indicate that Lisa Rodda had interrupted Matthew Mason having sex with Alex.
Alex, shortly after the encounter, at his mother’s home in Pickmere, near Knutsford, messaged a friend saying: my a* hurts, like I feel sick”.
“S***. That’s what you get for being a prostitute,” she replied.
He said: “Money money money,” to which she said: “Infection infection infection.”
Indeed, that day, Mason transferred £100 to Alex.
It was his final payment.
Internet searches, over the next couple of days, revealed Mason was already thinking about killing Alex.
Mason searched these terms online: ‘what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs’, ‘everyday poison’, ‘things that are poisonous’, ‘people missing in Cheshire’ and ‘the mysteries of Cheshire unsolved deaths of missing people’.
Alex was last seen on CCTV leaving his house on Holly Grove at 5.24pm, after Mason had messaged him on Snapchat.
A friend of Alex said he was ‘happy’ about going out with Mason, but, following a second FaceTime call, their concerns grew.
“He called me and he said ‘how weird is this?”, they said.
“I said ‘what’s weird?’ and he said ‘this guy I’m meeting wants to take me to a special secret place in a forest’.
“He said to me he didn’t want to go,” they said.
The witness said that Alex was ‘confused’ during the call, but later agreed to going with Mason because ‘he needed the money’.
Minutes after getting into Mason’s car, Alex posted a picture on his Snapchat story to his friends – it showed the inside of Mason’s car and had a small love heart emoji at the bottom.
It was the last message he ever sent.
On that cold and rainy night Mason drove Alex to woodland at Ashley, near Altrincham, and rained at least 15 heavy blows to his head with a wrench.
Following the attack, Mason left Alex – alone and partially clothed – to die.
He discovered Alex’s phone on the passenger seat and got rid of it.
Mason knew how much evidence was on the phone – to this day it has not been recovered.
As friends and family of Alex frantically searched for him, Mason went to the pub and met up with friends for a pint. A Snapchat selfie he sent to friends from the pub, and a barechested photo of himself he sent, smiling, later on, to his girlfriend from his bed, were callous attempts to cover his tracks.
But one final message ended Mason’s hopes of getting away with murder. At 00.35am, Cheshire Police texted Mason, saying: “Matthew could you please contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number … with regards to your friend Alex. Thank you.”
Around 12 hours later, at noon December 13, Mason, who was instantly suspected by Alex’s mother, Lisa, was stopped by police on the A41 in Staffordshire and arrested. In the boot, police found a blood-stained wrench. He was interviewed and charged with murder.
A year later he went on trial at Chester Crown Court. Now, having been found guilty, he faces life in prison when he is sentenced on January 25.