Man jailed for murder of mother after searching for life insurance pay-outs

Son told police he had left a battery on charge in the hallway while he went to McDonald’s, and was initially treated as a witness.

The scene of the fire in Southchurch Road, Southend, Essex. (Essex Police/ PA)
The scene of the fire in Southchurch Road, Southend, Essex. (Essex Police/ PA)

A man who murdered his own mother in a fire after carrying out internet searches for life insurance pay-outs has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years.

Andrew Wilding, 42, set fire to the flat he shared with his bedbound mother Elsie Pinder in Southend, Essex, on July 3, last year.

Wilding had been the sole carer for his 66-year-old mother who had suffered a stroke.

Ms Pinder died in the fire, as Wilding went to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to buy a drink.

Neighbours raised the alarm and had to evacuate the building.

Wilding told police he had left a battery on charge in the hallway while he went to McDonald’s, and was initially treated as a witness.

Andrew Wilding, 42, has been sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to life in prison with a minimum term of 27 years for the murder of his mother. (Essex Police/ PA)
Andrew Wilding, 42, has been sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to life in prison with a minimum term of 27 years for the murder of his mother. (Essex Police/ PA)

But during their investigation, officers found that in the lead-up to the fire the defendant had searched online for ‘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 stroke.

A final search carried out on June 30, was for ‘suspected arson what to look for battery’.

Jurors at Basildon Crown Court found Wilding guilty of murder following a trial, Essex Police said.

He was also found guilty of arson with intent to endanger life, due to him being aware there were occupants in the flat above, the force said.

Detective chief inspector Stuart Truss, who led the police investigation, said that Wilding’s “greed led to him setting a fire in the home he shared with his mother”.

Bedbound Elsie Pinder, 66, died in a flat fire started by her son Andrew Wilding. (Essex Police/ PA)

“He knew, there was no chance she would be able to get out of the building alive,” he said.

“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 from her the chance for her to enjoy her later years.

“Even more than that, 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.”

On Friday, Wilding was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to a life sentence and must serve 27 years before he can be considered for release, Essex Police said.

Mr Truss said afterwards: “Wilding believed he had concocted a believable story which would ensure he could continue on with his life without being punished.

“Even through his trial as the evidence was laid out, he maintained his innocence and that Elsie’s death was a tragic accident.

“Thankfully, we saw through his lies and so has the jury and today he has been handed a sentence which truly reflects his actions on July 2021.”

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