Student jailed for 16 years for murdering father

Friday 10 September 2010 13:37

A law student who murdered his father in a bid to escape his "controlling influence" was jailed for life today with a minimum term of 16 years.

Mark Alexander, 22, killed 70-year-old Samuel at the family home before burying his body in concrete in the garden.

Passing sentence at Reading Crown Court, Judge John Reddihough said he accepted that Alexander may have been in fear of his father, but added that, after his death, he acted in a "despicable, callous and sometimes cunning manner".

Alexander remained impassive as he was taken down to the cells.

The partially-burned remains of the former lecturer were only found after neighbours became suspicious of his son and compiled a dossier of information for police.

The residents of Prospect Close, a cul-de-sac in the small village of Drayton Parslow, Buckinghamshire, were concerned they had not seen Egyptian-born Mr Alexander since a garden party in August 2009.

The victim's neighbours were praised in court today for building up a dossier of their concerns and going to the police.

Mr Alexander was eventually reported missing in February this year, five months after it is believed he was murdered.

Officers found his badly decomposed remains buried under mortar and concrete in the garden. His son had attempted to burn parts of the body in a bid to disguise its identity.

During the course of a six-week trial it emerged that Mark Alexander, who was studying law and French at King's College, London at the time, faked his father's signature in Christmas cards as part of a plan to conceal the murder.

The court was also told of the extent to which his father dominated his son's life.

In mitigation, the 22-year-old's lawyer, Michael Borelli QC, said his mother was driven out by the family by the "boorish and bullying" behaviour of her then husband when the defendant was only six years old.

From then on, his father had a hold on his son's life to such an extent that he used a bell to summon the child.

He was kept apart from other children and made to practice music and study for long hours under the orders of his father, the court was told.

Mr Borelli added that Alexander was so fearful of his parent that he could not tell him of plans to stay in London with his girlfriend. It was against the wishes of his father who expected him to study at the University of Paris-Sorbonne.

The domineering parent also had a "secret life", the court was told by Mr Borelli.

He would spend long hours on the computer surfing teenage chat rooms and sex websites, sometimes posing as a man in his late teens or early 20s, it was claimed.

This was whilst Alexander lived in the house as a carer for his father, who had become ill.

The murder came after "a huge build up of tension", Alexander's lawyer said in mitigation.

The judge said the motive behind the killing wasn't known.

"It is a great shame that you have not been able to bring yourself to admit what you did," Judge Reddihough told the defendant.

Before sentencing Alexander, the judge said he accepted that he was "very much under the control of his father."

Judge Reddihough said: "The relationship to some extent involved fear of his father or at least fear of going against his father's wishes."

He continued: "There is no doubt that this defendant was very much under the controlling influence of his father at all times, right up to the time that this offence occurred."

The judge added: "You might have killed him because you couldn't face telling him of your future plans or because you tried to tell him and he disagreed."

But he said an aggravating factor in the case was the way in which Alexander had tried to conceal the crime.

"You acted in a despicable, callous and sometimes cunning manner," Judge Reddihough said.

Before being sentenced, Alexander was told: "Not only did you end your father's life in early September last year, you ruined all of your own future prospects."

After being told he must serve at least 16 years in jail before the chance of parole, Alexander was led away to the cells.

He remained impassive, making no gesture to friends in the public gallery.

Responding to the sentence, Detective Chief Inspector Joe Kidman, the Thames Valley Police officer who investigated the case, said: "Mark Alexander grew up under difficult and unusual circumstances.

"However that has to be balanced with the fact that he killed his 70-year-old father.

"Not only did he deny Samuel Alexander's right to proper burial, but he deliberately tried to deceive neighbours and officers investigating his father's disappearance and murder."

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