Southend murder: Life in jail for carer son who started fire and left disabled mum to die

Andrew Wilding, left, was convicted of the murder of his mother Elsie Pinder.
Credit: Essex Police
Elsie Pinder died after a fire at the flat she shared with her son Andrew Wilding, who is on trial for her murder. Credit: Essex Police

A son who set his own flat on fire, leaving his mother to burn to death inside, must serve at least 27 years behind bars.

Andrew Wilding was sentenced a day after being convicted of the murder of his mother, 66-year-old Elsie Pinder, at Basildon Crown Court.

He was seen leaving the flat they shared in Southend in the early hours of 3 July while inside his disabled mother was lying in bed, calling his name as the fire took hold.

Essex Police have issued CCTV footage of Wilding from that night, showing him leave the house and only returning once the emergency services had arrived.

The judge ruled Wilding, 42, who had denied the charges, must serve life with a minimum of 27 years before being considered for release.

He had claimed that the fire had been started by a faulty battery charger he had plugged in in the hall of their flat.

The jury heard that Wilding had been watching videos about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer just hours before, and then went out for a milkshake as the house went up in flames.

Det Ch Insp Stuart Truss, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Justice has been served for Elsie and the rest of her family, all of whom have carried themselves with incredible dignity since Andrew Wilding’s tragic actions were carried out. 

“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.”

Andrew Wilding leaving the flat in Southend after he started the fire. Credit: Essex Police

At Basildon Crown Court on Thursday, Wilding was found guilty of murder and arson with intent to endanger life, because there were people living in the flat above.

He had initially been treated as a witness but was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

Officers discovered internet searches being carried out in the lead-up the fire, relating 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 stroke, with a final search on 30 June for “suspected arson what to look for battery”. 

Police entering the home Elsie Pinder shared with her son Andrew Wilding in Southend Credit: BPM Media

Police said the investigation was "among the most complex investigations faced in Essex".

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