In a field by a church they found him lying in a fetal position – and a disturbing story of matricide unfolded

In a field next to a church, police who had launched a manhunt came across a body.

They moved closer, as they followed a path of freshly trodden down grass to where the man lay.

“Is he dead?,” one officer wondered out loud.

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He had been badly burned to his hands and feet, but Mark See was very much alive.

See had spent the best part of 16 hours there. He was discovered in the fetal position on the grass.

Sandra See

Hours earlier, he had driven 12 miles from his home in Gorton, in his work van, to a churchyard next to Manchester Airport.

The van was found abandoned next to the Airport cargo center, with its keys inside.

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Why he had driven there, not even See could explain.

But what police did know, was that he had fled from the scene of a devastating house fire which killed his mother, Sandra See.

She screamed as the intense blaze claimed her life in the most horrendous circumstances.

Mark See, 34, lay in a daze in hospital for two weeks after.

Mark See

He overheard news reports on the radio about a fatal house fire in Gorton, but didn’t realize the presenter was talking about him.

As he recovered in the burns unit, See made some disturbing comments.

He told a nurse he’d previously had thoughts of killing his mother in a house fire.

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See described having ‘terrible thoughts’ while feeling low, how he thought of hurting himself and others, mainly his mother.

“He has had previous and regular thoughts of killing his mother in a house fire,” a jury was told.

The damage to the property

“He described hearing a voice encouraging him to do this.”

He would later try and explain them away as being comments made as he ‘tried to make sense’ of what had happened.

It fell to a jury to decide exactly had happened in that bungalow on Darras Road, in the early hours of July 13.

Had Mark See murdered his mother after deliberately starting a fire in a drunken rage, or had it all been a terrible accident?

Floral tributes placed at the scene

After jurors spent 20 hours deliberating, See was convicted of murder.

The tiny one bed bungalow which See shared with his mother and pregnant girlfriend had been a powder keg for some time. Drink fueled rows were a frequent occurrence.

From an early age, the relationship with his mother had been complicated.

See said Sandra left the family home when he was four or five, and he and his sister were instead looked after by their father.

Bullied at school, he later moved in with family in London for a ‘fresh start’, but returned to Manchester as a teenager.

He described having an on-off relationship with his mother.

“It was up and down, we used to row quite a lot but then we would make up,” he said.

“We would row about the past and then we would be friends again.”

Hurtful insults were hurled between mother and son, with the past being a recurring topic.

Mark would bring up her absence, and blame her for choosing men over him and his sister.

Firefighters at the scene conducting an investigation

Sandra would allegedly tell Mark she wished he’d he had never been born, say he had been a mistake, and question the dad-of-two’s parenting skills.

But despite this dysfunctional relationship, the pair apparently remained close and she would call him her ‘favourite’ child.

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They would go to the pub together, and he would take her to the bingo.

See moved back in with his mother at the start of the lockdown in March 2020, leaving the mother of his children to look after Sandra, a former pub barmaid, who was living on her own.

She was frail, and needed a Zimmer frame to get around after surgery following a fall.

They were joined in their compact home by Natalie Hughes, who See met through the dating website Plenty of Fish.

She moved in weeks after they met, and they slept on fold out beds in the living room of the bungalow.

The relationship started well, and they later got engaged. But the honeymoon period was soon over. See said he was ‘in shock’ when they discovered she was pregnant.

Just as they were between mother and son, accusations were traded between them during heated rows.

See claimed Natalie was ‘scrounging’ from him, and splashing out on gadgets, shoes and handbags using benefit money.

Natalie would criticize him for spending his money on alcohol.

See claimed Natalie was not pulling her weight as his mum’s carer.

Tuesday, July 13 had been a seemingly normal day at work for See, who was employed delivering furniture.

He returned home early, at about 5.30pm, armed with a one liter bottle of Bell’s whiskey and two bottles of coke.

At first he told Natalie that a client had given him the booze, as a thank you for a delivery.

He sat down and started drinking, putting his headphones on and listening to music on his phone.

Natalie did the same, while Sandra watched TV.

Sandra had cut down on alcohol after her spell in hospital, but the lockdown and a spell on furlough only increased her son’s drinking.

After going to bed, she later got up again and drank with her son.

It was when Sandra apparently turned on her son that the pressure went up a notch.

See claimed his mother had previously sided with him in arguments with Natalie.

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A forensic officer at the scene on Darras Road

But she told See that Natalie was a ‘nice girl’, she did a good job caring for her and that if anyone was going to be leaving the house, it would be him.

Angered, See went to an ‘outhouse’ where he stored petrol in a six pint milk carton, which he used to power a lawnmower he’d bought from Gumtree.

Natalie could hear See banging about in the kitchen, before he emerged holding the cardboard.

As she moved to go to the bathroom, she felt an intense heat.

Within seconds, the bungalow was engulfed in flames.

His mother, still sat on the sofa, tried to get up but fell.

By now she was engulfed in the fire.

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See grabbed a duvet and tried to put her out, but the flames only got stronger.

He told how he watched his mother die in front of him, as she screamed in terror.

See fled.

“She’s dead, she’s dead,” See told Ms Hughes.

“Let’s leave her, let’s go.”

He didn’t call for an ambulance or the fire brigade.

Mark See

Instead he got in his work van and made a bizarre, 12 mile journey to south Manchester, having spent hours drinking whiskey and coke.

Exactly how the catastrophic fire broke out remains somewhat of a mystery.

See claimed he grabbed the petrol because he wanted to ‘get a reaction’, and scare them into thinking he was going to harm himself after the disagreement with his mother.

According to his version, he lit a cigarette while holding the milk carton in the other hand, and dropped the carton after it ignited.

But prosecutors said See had thrown petrol at his mother and deliberately started the fire after a ‘furious’ argument.

Nearly seven months later, See faced justice.

As the law caught up with him, this time he was stood in the dock of a crown court rather than lay in a field in south Manchester.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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