Teenagers jailed for life after trying to decapitate man as they hacked at him more than 100 times with samurai sword
Two teenagers have been jailed for life after trying to decapitate a factory supervisor as they hacked at him more than 100 times with a samurai sword.
Kiyran Earnshaw, 18, and Luke Gaukroger, 16, admitted murdering Robert Wilson in the “frenzied and senseless attack” in Huddersfield in January this year.
Mr Wilson, 53, had approached Earnshaw and Gaukroger as they loitered outside the Thornton and Ross Pharmaceutical plant.
CCTV footage played in court showed how the teenagers later passed a 20-inch blue samurai sword between them in an attack that lasted around 10 minutes.
Audio recorded from the factory supervisor’s phone call to a security firm during the attack captured Gaukroger, who was 15 at the time, shouting “get his head, I want to cut his head, Kia I want to cut his head”.
Mr Wilson’s pleas to the youths to stop the attack were also captured in the recording that was played at Leeds Crown Court.
Peter Makepeace, QC, prosecuting, said Earnshaw was the first to begin hacking at Mr Wilson after producing the weapon from his tracksuit bottoms.
The prosecutor added that Gaukroger could be heard saying “pass me the shank, pass me the shank”.
Mr Makepeace said Earnshaw passed the sword to the younger teenager after delivering multiple blows and kicks to Mr Wilson.
The prosecutor added that the pair paused at one point to catch their breath and to rifle through Mr Wilson’s pockets, taking his coat.
Mr Makepeace went on to say that Earnshaw and Gaukroger held the sword together, crouched towards Mr Wilson’s body, and seemed to “make a concerted effort to saw the head from the shoulders”.
He continued: “Both then jointly stab the upper body using their combined force.”
Police who arrived at the scene reported seeing one of the pair “using the sword in sawing motion to the neck area of the deceased as if trying to detach the head from the body”.
Mr Makepeace said Earnshaw was Tasered twice before he was arrested and officers used an incapacitant spray on Gaukroger.
Mr Wilson had left the plant to talk to the youths in the car park outside the factory with his colleagues Paul Thewliss and John Badejo.
The prosecutor said Mr Badejo was seriously injured as he tried to help his friend and both he and Mr Thewliss were forced to flee for their lives.
Mr Makepeace said the defendants were seen taking tablets “washed down with vodka and other alcohol” as they hung around Huddersfield with friends before the incident in January.
He said that Earnshaw was slurring his speech after his arrest and was asking why he had been arrested and complaining of police harassment.
He told officers he had taken cocaine and the tranquilliser Xanax.
Tests on drugs Earnshaw had in his possession found they were Flualprazolam – an artificial substance similar to Xanax which produces drowsiness, confusion and disinhibition.
Both defendants admitted murdering Mr Wilson and causing Mr Badejo grievous bodily harm with intent.
Judge Mr Justice Lavender sentenced Earnshaw and Gaukroger to life with minimum terms of 22 years and 16 years, eight months respectively.
Elaine Wilson, the night shift worker’s widow, confronted the killers in court and asked: “How on Earth have we come to this and why?”
Mrs Wilson said she was sickened to receive a letter from one of the defendants saying it was the “worst night of my life and ‘I’m sorry'”.
She told the judge she had been shocked to “feel so much hate”.
Mrs Wilson said to the defendants: “I want you to know you have taken the life of a much respected, admired and good man.”
Mr Wilson had two stepchildren and enjoyed gardening, golf and walking in the Yorkshire Dales, the court heard.
Sentencing the teenagers, Mr Justice Lavender said: “As he lay dying, you used the sword in repeated attempts to cut off his head.
“You ended his life and you brought lifelong misery and grief to his wife, his two stepchildren and his other family and friends.”
The judge said: “This frenzied and senseless attack on a man who was quite unable to defend himself went on for about 10 minutes.”
He added: “I have watched the recording and it is a truly gruesome sight, made all the more ghastly by the fact that your blows and words, including your abuse of this dying man, and his attempts to speak, were being recorded, because he had begun a telephone call to the firm’s security company.”
The judge noted that both teenagers had committed offences of violence in the past.
He said this included an incident in October 2016 when Earnshaw used a knife to stab a fellow student at his school twice in the stomach.