The Threesome Invitation That Turned Into a Murder

How a conversation on a dating app led to a man being stabbed through the heart.

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Nov 10 2017, 10:07am

L-R: Mark Law and Casey Mason, with the knife emoji Mason texted Law. Photos: Leicestershire Police

When the first responders arrived, Timothy Smith's death looked like a tragic accident.

On Thursday the 16th of March, at around 9PM, police were called to an industrial estate in Shepshed, a small commuter town in Leicestershire. A silver Ford Focus appeared to have crashed into a wall, and inside East Midlands Ambulance Service had found the body of 45-year-old Timothy Smith, a forklift instructor from Staffordshire, who lived in Tamworth, half an hour's drive away.

Unconscious and unresponsive, Smith was pronounced dead at the scene – however he was found to have injuries not consistent with a road traffic accident, and witnesses had seen two men fleeing the industrial estate. Following the post-mortem examination, it was clear that something was amiss: a stab wound to the heart had killed Smith, not the crash.

Through intensive CCTV work, an examination of Smith’s phone and online appeals from Leicestershire police, detectives placed two young men at the scene: Mark Law and Mason Casey.

Unpicking the evidence, police determined the sequence of events that led to Smith's death. Mark Law and Timothy Smith first made contact via the dating app Badoo, on which Law sent the older man a photo of his penis and the offer of a threesome. On the night of the 16th, at about 8:30PM, Smith picked up 20-year-old Law and 17-year-old Casey in Shepshed and was directed to the nearby Gelders Hall industrial estate. It was here, in what they thought was an empty car park, that Law forced a hunting knife into the stranger's chest, puncturing his heart. Smith, who was fatally injured, tried to drive away, but only managed a few metres before crashing into the wall. The two young men ran off, and Law threw the knife – which was later recovered – into a pond.

Just half an hour after meeting Law and Casey, Smith was dead.


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If you're confused with this report, you’re not alone. The story of Timothy Smith's murder has a lot of holes. Why did these two men choose to murder a man they’d never met? Were there any genuine sexual motives, or was that just part of the trap? Why was Mason Casey there when, before the night of the 16th, all the communication had been solely between Smith and Mark Law?

These are all questions the police tried to answer when they arrested the pair, to varying degrees of success. What they were able to establish fairly quickly was each suspect's position: Law admitted to the murder, while Casey denied any involvement, stressing he was unaware of what would transpire when he got into Smith's car, and blaming his co-accused for the crime.

"I was with Mark Law at his house, and we left there because he had a phone call off this Tim guy," Casey is quoted by the Leicester Mercury as telling investigating officers. "We went to the bottom of the road and Mark was like, 'You coming?' I got in the car behind Mark and we drove to Gelders Hall, around the corner. As the car stopped, I got out to do my boots up. I finished fastening one of my boots up and Mark jumped out of the car, saying: 'Go, go – we’ve got to go now!' He was like, 'I've just stabbed him,' so I panicked and ran off, just went. I didn’t want to be involved in it. He was behind me, he was following me. He was like, 'I can’t believe I’ve just done that, I can’t believe I’ve just done that.' [...] I didn’t think he’d actually do something like this. I thought he was all just talk."

The talk Casey was referring to was Law's admission, some time before the murder, that he was interested in cannibalism, as well as a conversation between the pair about killing "Michael", another man Law had met and sent sexual messages to on Badoo.

During Casey's trial at Leicester Crown Court, the court heard that Mark Law had proposed a meeting with Michael at the same Gelders Hall industrial estate. In a conversation about the meet-up, the jury heard, Law had mentioned stabbing Michael "in the head"; and later – after he'd sent Casey screenshots of his Badoo conversation with the man – Casey had texted his friend the message "Kill him", with a knife emoji.

Casey told the jury: "I didn’t mean anything by it. I was humouring him, with a laugh and a joke. None of it was serious." However, the prosecutor, James House QC, said Casey had told police in his interview that he knew Law had wanted to kill Michael, and that he'd accompanied him to the industrial estate to meet him, a week before the murder of Timothy Smith.

"Did you say what happens when he turns up?" asked Mr House.

"No," said Casey.

"Was there any conversation about what would happen once he had been killed?"

"No."

Stock image, model is not involved in the story. Photo: Jake Smallwood

Luckily, Michael never showed. The reason, he explained when interviewed by police, was because of "the nature of Law’s conversation" – by which he meant Law telling him, "I won’t hurt you unless you hurt me," asking him if he "could fight" and then telling him that an ex-partner had "tried to eat me alive".

The final claim was just one of many cannibalism references Law made in messages on Badoo. In court, Casey Mason's defence barrister, Robert Woodcock QC, gave some more examples.

On the 7th of March, Law asked one man: "Before we continue, you ain’t one of them who chops people up are you? Thought of being in your tummy is scary."

The man replied: "You’re obsessed with being chopped up, ha ha."

He asked another man if he would kidnap and eat him, suggesting they meet on an industrial estate; asked a woman, "Hey can you consume me?" and suggested to another: "Well can you kidnap me and use me for sex, and once you’ve done with me, chop me up, keep me in a freezer and eat me – I’d be free food for you."

When, in court, Woodcock asked Casey about the first time Law mentioned anything to do with cannibalism, he said: "I was at his house," which the jury heard was a short walk away from Casey's own home, and that he'd sometimes go round to play Xbox in Law's bedroom. "We were having a normal conversation about everyday stuff, and he came out with it – he said he would like to eat people," Casey continued.

"What reaction from you did that produce?" asked Woodcock.

"I laughed."

"Did you explore it further with him?"

"No."

During the trial, Woodcock also recounted some of Law's "bizarre, sadistic and revolting" internet searches, which included: "Eating human meat video"; "Can you legally eat a dead person?"; "Strangling someone to death"; "Naked choke hold"; and "How long is death from strangling?"


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Law clearly had a fixation with cannibalism, and propositioned both Michael and Timothy Smith with sex, so could these two elements have been a combined obsession, and could that combination – violence charged with lust – have driven a desire to kill? Could some urge wrapped up in all of that explain why Timothy Smith ended up dead?

In an article for the Independent, Dr Mark Griffiths – a professor at Nottingham Trent University – explored the possible intentions behind cannibalism and its link with sexual fetishisms, describing this "vorarephilia" as "a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually aroused by: i) the idea of being eaten, ii: eating another person, and/or iii: observing this process for sexual gratification", adding that "most vorarephiles' behaviour is fantasy-based, although there have been real cases, such as Armin Meiwes, the so-called 'Rotenburg Cannibal'."

Whether any of this applies to Law, of course, is merely speculation – when he plead guilty to Timothy Smith's murder on Friday the 8th of September at Leicester Crown Court, he avoided a trial and all of the questioning that comes with it.

At Mason Casey's trial, he told the jury he had no idea that Mark Law had planned to kill Timothy Smith, that Law had offered Smith a threesome or that his friend was carrying a knife. However, he admitted he was aware that Law had previously carried a knife; that he knew there was a photo of him on Law's Badoo profile; and that Law had been exchanging sexual messages with Smith. In his police interview, when asked why he'd accompanied Law to meet the older man, the jury heard that Casey had said, "He asked me to. I just went with him. I didn’t think anything would happen – I thought it was just sort of like a normal meet up. I didn’t know anything like this was gonna happen."

However, on Monday the 23rd October, a jury reached a unanimous decision, finding Casey, now 18, guilty of murder. Both men were sentenced to life in prison, with Law ordered to serve a minimum of 19 years and Casey a minimum of 15 before being eligible for parole.

After the sentencing, Timothy Smith's father, Derick, said, "It’s been a long six months of not knowing the reasons why [Timothy was killed], if indeed we will ever know them," adding that the family was still reeling from the "pointless death".

James House QC said he believed there were three possible motives for the murder – one relating to Law's interest in cannibalism, one to Law's sexual fantasies and the other to Law's desire to own a car, which could have been fulfilled by stealing Smith's Ford Focus – according to ITV News. However, he stressed that the true motivation remained unclear – that all those questions and plot holes and missing details have gone answered.

However, if the statement he made following the sentencing is anything to go by, he's sure of one thing: "Law's true intention, whether it was to engage in sexual activity or not, was primarily to kill."

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