Killer Matthew Mason, who beat Alex Rodda to death after luring him into woods (Image: MEN Media)

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A man who bludgeoned a 15-year-old boy to death to cover up their sexual relationship has had his jail term cut.

Matthew Mason, 20, lured Alex Rodda into secluded woodland in Ashley, Cheshire, in December 2019 and beat him with a heavy wrench.

Mason rained down an estimated 15 blows on the schoolboy's head and body then left the scene.

Rodda's partially clothed body was discovered by rubbish collectors in the woods.

Mason was handed a minimum term of 28 years in prison for the murder of Alex Rodda.

But during an appeal over the sentence on Tuesday judges declared the prison term 'manifestly excessive,' the Manchester Evening News reports.

Mason had denied murder during a trial at Chester Crown Court claiming self-defence and a secondary, partial defence of loss of control.

But the jury saw through his lies and convicted him of murder.

Alex Rodda, 15, was found dead in woodland in Ashley on December 13, 2019
(Image: MEN Media)

Judge Steven Everett sentenced Mason to life in prison with a minimum term of 28 years for an attack that he said was 'carefully planned and ruthlessly carried out'.

Today, Mason sought leave to appeal his sentence claiming it was 'excessive'.

Gordon Cole QC, appearing for Mason, said: "We raise no argument that this was an extremely serious offence.

"We accept the starting point is one of 25 years.

"We accept the reasoning of the learned judge.

"We submit, in short form, it's too much for a young man of this age."

Police investigate on Ashley Mill Lane after the teen's body was discovered
(Image: MEN Media)

The court heard that if Mason had been under 18 at the time of the offence, the starting point for sentence would have been 12 years.

Lord Justice Holroyde, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Picken, told the court that 12 years would have been increased 'substantially' because of the aggravating factors in the case.

However, he added that there is 'well-established case law' that states courts should not treat a defendant's 18th birthday as 'a cliff edge'.

Ian Unsworth QC, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service, argued that judge Everett had stated that not only was there three years' difference in age between Alex and Mason, but that the killer was 'so much more emotionally mature'.

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In reaching his sentence, Judge Everett had also made reference to Mason's lack of remorse during the trial, Mr Unsworth said.

He pointed to Judge Everett's remarks to Mason: "I sentence you for the murder of a 15 year old boy, something I think you will never, ever understand."

This metal wrench was used as a murder weapon by Mason, then 18
(Image: MEN Media)

Lord Holroyde said the Court of Appeal judges had been 'persuaded that [Judge Everett] fell into error' in assessing Mason's age and level of maturity at the time of the offence, as well as failing to take into account his previous 'good character'.

While they agreed that the aggravating factors of the killing should increase the minimum term beyond 25 years, they ruled that 28 years was 'manifestly excessive'.

They quashed the original sentence and handed Mason a fresh sentence of 26 years minus the 406 days he spent on remand.

Mason, who observed proceedings at Mold Crown Court via videolink, did not appear to react as the judgment was handed down.

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During his trial, the court heard how his relationship with Alex began via social media and quickly became sexual.

Mason, an agricultural engineering student, sent an explicit image to Alex and the pair met for sex on several occasions.

Alex then began asking Mason for money, threatening to tell his girlfriend and family about the relationship as well as the police .

In the months leading up to the murder, Mason paid Alex more than £2,000 to stop him exposing his criminal offending.

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After committing his attack, Mason left his victim alone in the woods and disposed of Alex’s mobile phone.

He then visited two pubs to drink with friends before making his way home.

Meanwhile Alex’s mum was becoming increasingly concerned when he did not return home and she made numerous attempts to ring his phone, but the calls would not connect.

She rang a number of his friends who said they had not seen or spoken to him that evening.

Alex Rodda was beaten to death with a heavy metal wrench by Mason
(Image: MEN Media)

As Alex’s friends knew he had formed a relationship with Mason, they messaged him over two hours – desperate to be assured he was safe and well.

Alex’s mum was made aware of this and contacted Mason before reporting her son missing to police.

Most of their calls and messages went unanswered as Mason travelled back to the scene of his horrific crime in the early hours of Friday, December 13.

It is during this time that the prosecution believes Mason went into the woods and dragged Alex’s body to the track at the side of the road in an attempt to put him inside his car.

After failing to do this he then drove away.

After Alex’s body was found , a witness informed police he had taken a photo shortly after 6pm on Thursday, December 12, of a black Renault Clio parked on the track beside the gated entrance to the woods.

The details of the car were checked by police and Mason was identified as the owner.

Mason, of Knutsford in Cheshire, was found guilty of murder by a jury
(Image: MEN Media)

He was stopped by officers as he drove towards Telford shortly before midday on December 13.

Mason had dried blood on his hands and fingers and inside the boot of his car was a bin bag with his blood stained green fleece, the wrench, and Alex’s large padded jacket.

Following the conviction in January, 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.

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“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."