Family of murdered Birstall man say what killers did was 'incomprehensible to any “normal” human being

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The wife of a murdered Birstall man said what his killers did was incomprehensible to any “normal” human being and they do not deserve a place in society.

Kiyran Earnshaw, 18, of Field Lane, Batley, and Luke Gaukroger, 16, from Arthur Street, Huddersfield were both sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to the murder of 53-year-old Robert Wilson in Linthwaite on January 16, 2020.

Earnshaw also pleaded guilty to a Section 18 assault on Mr John Badejo, another victim of the incident.

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Teenagers jailed for life for 'barbaric' murder of Birstall man Robert Wilson
Birstall man Robert WilsonBirstall man Robert Wilson
Birstall man Robert Wilson

Officers were called to the Thornton and Ross premises in Linthwaite at 11.45pm on January 16 to a report that a serious assault on two males was underway.

Police attended and quickly located the two defendants who were attacking Mr Wilson.

Both fled but were swiftly detained and medical attention was provided to the victim. Despite this however, it was quickly apparent he had already suffered none survivable injuries.

The other teenagers fled after Earnshaw produced a sword which he then used to inflict a serious hand injury on Mr Badejo and, in concert with Gaukroger, fatal injuries on Mr Wilson, in a completely unprovoked attack.

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Mr Badejo required extensive hospital treatment after the attack and is still recovering to this day.

Earnshaw was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 21 years and 140 days for the murder and 9 years for the Section 18 assault to run concurrently while Gaukroger was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 16 years and 17 days.

In a family statement released by West Yorkshire Police Mrs Elaine Wilson on behalf of Robert’s family said: "We as a family would like to thank everyone in this case; the emergency services for their efforts to save Robert’s life, DCI Bowes and his team for their hard work and care of us over the last 7 months, our QC Peter Makepeace and his honour Mr Justice Lavender for finally delivering (some kind of) justice.

"Robert was a much loved husband, stepfather, brother, uncle and friend. He was hard working, had a wicked sense of humour, and was fun to be with. He enjoyed many things in life, loved all sports, gardening, long distance walking (especially in the Yorkshire Dales) and music of which he was very knowledgeable. His passion for the game of golf brought many friends into our lives and he loved being a member of Dewsbury District Golf Club.

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"As a boss he was very much admired and respected by his team, not only as a manager, but also as a mentor and friend to all. It is a testament to Robert that both his golf club and company are honouring him with memorial days, awards and trophies in his name. It is a comfort to us to know he will not be forgotten and that he made his mark in so many ways. He was a caring man who took the time to help out at a local nursing home and chat to the residents, raising a smile on their faces. Everyone has been left devastated by his death.

"Without a doubt the hardest part of losing Robert has been the manner in which he lost his life. That he had such a horrific death has been hard to bear for us. We have tried to look for positives and are thankful that it was only one life that was taken, it could quite easily have been more. We are just so glad that these youths are now off our streets as they obviously have no regard for anyone. To do what they did is incomprehensible to any “normal” human being and they do not deserve a place in society.

"Going forward the family are determined to find some good from this ordeal and will support in any way we can the various knife crime programmes run in conjunction with West Yorkshire Police. I feel passionate that as parents and law abiding citizens we need to educate the young on the devastation which can be caused by these senseless acts of violence, which as proved by Robert’s death, can happen to anyone at anytime and anywhere.

"I have had the privilege of being Robert’s wife but I am devastated that my life has to carry on without him.

"The family would like to thank everyone who have offered their love and support throughout."