Two teenagers sentenced for killing man with 100 blows from samurai sword

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4 mins read
Robert Wilson, bottom left, was killed with a samurai sword in January. (PA/SWNS/West Yorkshire Police)
Robert Wilson, bottom left, was killed with a samurai sword in January. (PA/SWNS/West Yorkshire Police)

Two teenagers have been sentenced to life for murdering a factory supervisor with more than 100 blows from a samurai sword.

Kiyran Earnshaw, 18, and Luke Gaukroger, 16, were given minimum terms of 22 years and 16 years, eight months respectively for killing Robert Wilson in Huddersfield.

They were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday, and Mr Justice Lavender said: “You ended his life and you brought lifelong misery and grief to his wife, his two stepchildren and his other family and friends.”

He added: “This frenzied and senseless attack on a man who was quite unable to defend himself went on for about 10 minutes.

“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.”

Kiyran Earnshaw, 18, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 21 years and 140 days at Leeds Crown Court. (PA/West Yorkshire Police)
Kiyran Earnshaw, 18, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 21 years and 140 days at Leeds Crown Court. (PA/West Yorkshire Police)
Luke Gaukroger, 16, was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 16 years and 17 days. (PA/West Yorkshire Police)
Luke Gaukroger, 16, was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 16 years and 17 days. (PA/West Yorkshire Police)

CCTV played at the court showed Wilson, 53, investigating youths who were hanging around outside the Thornton and Ross pharmaceutical plant in Huddersfield when he was attacked by the two in January.

They passed a 20-inch sword between them, and at one point tried to decapitate their victim, the court heard.

Two men who went with Wilson to talk to the youngsters in the car park had to flee for their lives, Peter Makepeace QC, prosecuting, said. He added: “There is no suggestion they were anything other than polite and decent in their dealings with the youths once they met up in the car park.”

Forensic officers investigate an alleyway close to where Robert Wilson was stabbed to death. (Alex Cousins/SWNS)
Forensic officers investigate an alleyway close to where Robert Wilson was stabbed to death. (Alex Cousins/SWNS)

Both defendants admitted murdering Wilson while Earnshaw, of Batley, admitted causing one of the men grievous bodily harm with intent.

Audio recording from Wilson’s phone to a security firm captured Gaukroger – who was 15 at the time – saying “get his head, I want to cut his head, Kia I want to cut his head”.

The recording also captured their victim’s pleas to stop the attack.

Makepeace told the court that Earnshaw started the assault, raining blows on Wilson, while Huddersfield resident Gaukroger was heard repeatedly shouting: “Pass me the shank, pass me the shank.”

Earnshaw did so, and Makepeace said the pair paused to catch their breath and go through their victim’s pockets, taking his coat, before resuming the attack.

The prosecutor said: “Earnshaw and Gaukroger together holding the sword and crouching to the upper body then seem to make a concerted effort to saw the head from the shoulders.

Handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of a samurai sword used to kill Robert Wilson. (via PA)
Handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of a samurai sword used to kill Robert Wilson. (via PA)
A store near where Robert Wilson was killed. (SWNS)
A store near where Robert Wilson was killed. (SWNS)

“Both then jointly stab the upper body using their combined force.”

Officers who arrived said one of the pair was “using the sword in sawing motion to the neck area of the deceased as if trying to detach the head from the body”.

They Tasered Earnshaw twice and used an incapacitant spray on the boy, the court heard.

Makepeace said the defendants were seen taking tablets “washed down with vodka and other alcohol” before the attack, and Earnshaw slurred his speech.

Tests on drugs Earnshaw carried found them to be Flualprazolam, which is similar to Xanax, and he told officers he had taken cocaine.

Flowers laid at the scene in January. (Alex Cousins/SWNS)
Flowers laid at the scene in January. (Alex Cousins/SWNS)

Both teenagers had committed offences of violence in the past, the judge noted.

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.

A postmortem concluded Wilson’s cause of death was from multiple stab wounds.

He was married with two grown-up children and enjoyed gardening, golf and walking in the Yorkshire Dales, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Wife Elaine said his death was “completely incomprehensible”, and that she was sickened to receive a letter from one of the defendants saying it was the “worse night of my life and ‘I’m sorry’”.

She said to the defendants: “I want you to know you have taken the life of a much respected, admired and good man.”

The family previously said: “Robert was a loving and committed husband and father. As well as being loved and respected by work colleagues and friends.”