A mother was murdered after her son threw petrol at her and started a devastating fire following a ‘furious’ argument, prosecutors allege.
Mark See, 34, has gone on trial accused of murdering his 63-year-old mother Sandra See, after a fire took hold in the early hours at the bungalow they shared on Darras Road in Gorton.
He denies murder and is expected to say it was a ‘terrible accident’.
READMORE:‘The most loving mother anyone could know’: Heartbreak after mum-of-five, 38, dies suddenly
Ms See’s body was ‘incinerated’, and she had to be identified by a metal plate in her leg.
Her son drove away from the house minutes after the blaze broke out, and was found by police in the fetal position in a churchyard near Manchester Airport hours later, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Jurors were told that Mr See had returned home after a ‘normal’ day at work on July 12, to the home he also shared with his girlfriend, Natalie Hughes, who was Ms See’s full time carer.
Manchester’s courts are some of the busiest in the country with a vast array of cases heard every week.
To keep up to date with how justice is being served across Greater Manchester subscribe to our free weekly MEN Court News newsletter put together by our court reporters Andrew Bardsley and Amy Walker.
How do I sign up?
- First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
- Once you’re there, put your email address where it says at the top, then tick the MEN Court News box. There are other newsletters available if you want them as well.
- When you’ve made your choice, hit Save Changes button at the bottom.
She needed a Zimmer frame to get around after surgery following a fall.
Mr See, who worked as a driver collecting and delivering furniture, had returned with a one liter bottle of whiskey and two bottles of coke.
During the evening he became ‘increasingly abusive’ to Ms Hughes and his mother, prosecutor Francis FitzGibbon QC said.
“He was pressing his mother to drink with him, she didn’t want to but she went along with it and did anyway,” the prosecutor said.
They also drank some Guinness, and at one point Mr See ‘demanded’ £100 from his mother to buy more alcohol.
“She refused to give it to him,” the QC added.
Ms Hughes saw him go into the kitchen and heard ‘banging noises’, before he returned with something partly concealed by his back.
He had a six pint milk carton which he used to store petrol for a lawnmower, jurors heard. Shortly after, she heard raised voices and then began to feel heat, and saw flames and black smoke.
She could not breathe and ran out of the property. Mr See followed a minute later.
He told her to ‘run’ but she refused, Mr FitzGibbon said.
“She’s dead, she’s dead,” Mr See is alleged to have said.
“Let’s leave her, let’s go.”
“We can’t leave her, we need to ring the fire brigade,” Ms Hughes replied.
About two minutes after the fire is believed to have broken out, Mr See drove away in his work van, at 2.19am.
Firefighters arrived about five minutes later. They were able to recover Ms See’s body from her, but it was described as being ‘incinerated’.
“The prosecution say that Mark See threw petrol at his mother and set fire to it, in the course of a furious, drunken argument while she was sitting on the sofa in her living room,” Mr FitzGibbon said.
“We say Mr See started the fire deliberately, intending to kill her, or at the very least intending to do her really serious bodily harm. That means what he did was murder.”
His work van was discovered by police about an hour later, abandoned near the cargo center at Manchester Airport.
Mr See was found the following day, at about 7pm, lay in the fetal position in a churchyard close to where the van was found.
He had ‘significant’ burns to his hands and feet.
We have a dedicated Facebook group covering court cases across Greater Manchester.
For all the latest trial coverage and sentencing join the group here.
To download our app to get all the latest news visit here.
Mr See told the officer his name, and after being asked how he’d been injured, said: “I did it in the fire last night at my mum’s.”
He was interviewed by police on July 26, but made no comment.
An expert investigation into the cause of the fire determined it had ‘probably started as a result of deliberate ignition’, with an accelerating such as petrol being used.
“The prosecution say that the petrol got there because Mr See threw it in anger, and his mother was the target,” Mr FitzGibbon said.
“He may claim in his defense that the fire and the death was just a terrible accident.
“We say that once you have heard the evidence you will be sure that Mr See murdered his mother by deliberately setting her on fire with petrol.
“He knew what would happen and intended it to happen.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.