Southend man found guilty of murdering his mother

Mick Ferris
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A man has been found guilty of murdering his own mother after detectives were able to prove he set a fire in their Southend home, knowing she would have no way of getting out to safety. 

Andrew Wilding was caught on CCTV leaving the home he shared with his mum Elsie Pinder in Southchurch Road, in the early hours of Saturday July 3, 2021.

Just 85 seconds after Wilding left the home, CCTV showed smoke coming from the home.

Wilding, who was his 66-year-old mother’s sole carer, continued walking and made his way to a nearby McDonald’s to buy a drink.

As the fire took hold, Wilding’s neighbours raised the alarm and had to flee the building. One brave man did re-enter the building to rescue Ms Pinder and her son, believing both to be in the building.

When Wilding returned, he told officers he had left the house to go to McDonald’s and had left a battery on charge in the hallway.

Wilding, who had initially been treated as a significant witness, was nominated as a suspect and was arrested on suspicion of murder and arson with intent to endanger life.

He was released on conditional bail as the complex investigation progressed.

Throughout that investigation, detectives uncovered a significant number of internet searches being carried out in the lead up the incident. Those searches related to “fires”, “arsons”, “murders” and “batteries involved in fires”.

There were also searches around inheritance pay-outs and the life expectancy of a person with a stoke.

A final search carried out on June 30 was “suspected arson what to look for battery”.

Wilding, 42, was re-arrested on suspicion of murder. He gave no answer to each question posed to him during interview and was subsequently charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life due to him being aware there were occupants in the flat above.

He denied the charges, but a jury at Basildon Crown Court today found him guilty on both counts.

He will be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court tomorrow (December 2).

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Truss, who led the investigation, said: “This is a tragic case in which Andrew Wilding’s greed led to him setting a fire in the home he shared with his mother. He knew, there was no chance she would be able to get out of the building alive. She had suffered a stroke and was bedbound and he was her sole carer.

“Elsie, despite her health issues, was described as being full of laughter and energy. Wilding took away the chance for her to enjoy her later years.

“He also knew there were neighbours in the building in which he and his mother lived. He undoubtedly put their lives at risk with his actions.

“This is among the most complex investigations faced in Essex.”

Mick Ferris

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