A MAN who killed his mother and tried to cover his tracks by attempting to cause a gas explosion at their home address has been found guilty of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Mark Hayes, 37 (14.11.78) of Idmiston Road, Stratford, was found guilty of the murder of Phyllis Hayes, 65, and arson with intent to endanger life.
He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Alan Pryer who he tried to kill whilst on the run after murdering his mother. He was convicted today, Monday, 21 December.
He was remanded for sentencing at the same court on Tuesday, 22 December.
The jury heard how on Monday, 8 June, Mrs Hayes, who worked as an assistant phoned into work sick. She was due to return on the Thursday of that week but she failed to turn up. Worried, her colleagues attempted to get in contact with her but to no avail.
That same morning, one of her neighbours became increasingly concerned by a strong smell of gas which she believed was coming from her own property.
Checks were undertaken by an engineer who discovered that gas was not coming from the neighbour’s property, so the gas board were called to investigate.
Further checks were made and at approximately 10:30hrs engineers located the likely source of gas to Mrs Hayes’ property and attempts were made alert the occupiers. A locksmith was called and access was gained to the property.
The engineer entered the property and made his way to the bedroom where he found her lifeless body with multiple stab wounds. There was no sign of Hayes.
Whilst awaiting the arrival of the London Ambulance Service the engineer began to ventilate the property and in the kitchen he discovered that all four control knobs on the gas cooker were turned to the on position.
The London Ambulance Service attended and Mrs Hayes was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:21hrs.
A post-mortem examination held at East Ham Mortuary on Sunday, 13 June, gave the cause of death as multiple incised stab wounds. She had sustained approximately 50 stab wounds across her body.
An investigation was launched by detectives from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) and on a search of the kitchen, detectives found a knife block containing a large kitchen knife with a blood stain.
A further search revealed that in the microwave was a melted plastic container with a cigarette lighter inside. Detectives believed that this was an attempt to cause an explosion taking into account that the cooker had been left on.
Hayes – who was a part-time street cleaner – was last seen by work colleagues on the Monday and he failed to attend work the following day. At some point following the murder he made his way to Essex and on Thursday, 11 June, detectives received information that Hayes had boarded a London bound train at 14:06hrs.
With the assistance of officers from the British Transport Police attempts were made to intercept Hayes. Officers boarded the train at Stratford, however Hayes was not on board.
CCTV enquires were undertaken and Hayes was captured at 14:10hrs disembarking the train at Wickford Station. Hayes was circulated as wanted and a manhunt was launched.
In the early hours of Friday, 12 June, Hayes who had made his way to Tilbury, entered a cabin which was located in the grounds of a public house. Sleeping in the cabin was Alan Pryer and he was awoken to Hayes hitting him over the head repeatedly with a trophy.
A struggle ensued between the two and Mr Pryer was stabbed a number of times sustaining injuries to his torso and leg. He eventually managed to escape and fled the outbuilding seeking help from those residing in the public house.
Following the attack, Hayes made his way to Tilbury Dock and at around 05:20hrs two police officers from the Port of Tilbury Police found Hayes hiding in a toilet block and he was arrested for his mother’s murder.
Whilst in custody the link between Hayes and the attack on Mr Pryer was made and he was further arrested for attempted murder.
On Sunday, 14 June, Hayes was charged as above.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve McCabe from the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) said: "Hayes brutally murdered the very person who cared and supported him. He sought to cover his crime by dangerously attempting to stage a gas explosion, which had it not been for neighbouring residents could have had dire consequences and a number of people could have been killed or injured.
"Phyllis died horrifically at the hands of her own son who then went on to almost kill a man days later in a frenzied and unprovoked attack. It is only right that Hayes faces the consequences of his actions.
"I would like to thank our counterparts at Essex Police, the Port of Tilbury Police and the British Transport Police for all the assistance provided. A dangerous man has now been convicted and I have no doubt he will face a lengthy sentence."
Hayes other victim, Alan Pryer said: "The attack on me has seriously affected both my physical and mental state. I was alone, sleeping in my bed, the place I felt safest, only to be woken up, being attacked and needing to do everything to save my life.
"Even now, I wake up in the middle of the night in fear of what happened. I do not think I will ever be the same man I was before this attack, I’ve lost all my confidence, however this conviction helps me to get past what happened and gives me closure that the nightmare is over. I will sleep easier knowing this man can’t come back and attack me again or anyone else."