Life sentence for Stratford street-cleaner who killed his mum

Mark Hayes, 37, of Idmiston Road, Stratford, was found guilty of the murder of his mum Phyllis Hayes

Mark Hayes, 37, of Idmiston Road, Stratford, was found guilty of the murder of his mum Phyllis Hayes, 65, and arson with intent to endanger life - Credit: Archant

A part-time street cleaner has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his mother and attempting to cause a gas explosion at their Stratford home to cover his tracks.

Phyllis Hayes was murdered by her son Mark

Phyllis Hayes was murdered by her son Mark - Credit: Archant

Mark Hayes, of Idmiston Road, was found guilty of killing Phyllis Hayes, 65, and arson with intent to endanger life at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday.

He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Alan Pryer, who he tried to kill whilst on.

The 37-year-old received life sentences for all the offences with a recommendation to serve 21 years for murder, five-and-a-half years for arson and eight-and-a-half years for attempted murder – all running concurrently.

The jury heard how on Monday, June 8, Mrs Hayes phoned into work sick and failed to turn up on Thursday, as planned.

That same morning, a neighbour became increasingly concerned by a strong smell of gas she believed was coming from her home.

Further checks were made and at about 10:30am, engineers located the likely source of gas to Mrs Hayes’ property and a locksmith was called to gain access, only to find her lifeless body with about 50 stab wounds.

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It was then discovered that all four control knobs on the gas cooker were turned on.

A post-mortem examination held at East Ham Mortuary on Sunday, June 13, gave the cause of death as multiple incised stab wounds.

Detectives later found a knife block containing a large kitchen knife with a blood stain and a melted plastic container with a cigarette lighter in the Hayes’ microwave, believing it to be an attempt to cause an explosion.

Hayes was last seen by work colleagues on June 8 before CCTV picked him up disembarking a train at Wickford Station three days later and a manhunt was launched.

In the early hours of Friday, June 12, Hayes who had made his way to Tilbury, entered a cabin in the grounds of a pub.

Alan Pryer, who was sleeping in the cabin, was awoken to Hayes hitting him over the head repeatedly with a trophy.

A struggle ensued between and Mr Pryer was stabbed a number of times in the torso and leg before managing to escape.

Hayes was arrested at around 5.20am by two police officers who found him hiding in a toilet block in Tilbury Dock

Det Chief Insp 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.

Hayes other victim, Mr 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.”