Murder trial latest: Father and son deny charge

Shaun Atkinson
Shaun Atkinson

A man’s body was found with 56 slash and stab wounds at his Scarborough home after his partner’s father walked into a police station saying he had killed someone, a jury heard.

Graham Reeds QC prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court today shortly before 5.45pm on December 27 last year Barry Rewcroft went into Scarborough police station and told the surprised receptionist: “I think I have murdered someone.”

He had blood on his hands and face and had put a large knife on the counter saying: “All this arguing with my son and daughter.”

A police sergeant passing by heard what was said and took the knife calling for back-up before speaking further to Rewcroft who he believed was drunk, asking him what had happened.

Barry Rewcroft replied: “My daughter is with a psychopath. He comes round p*****. I’ve gone round to kill him.”

Mr Reeds told the jury Rewcroft named the man as Shaun Atkinson, the partner of his daughter Ella saying he lived in St John’s Avenue adding: “I have stabbed him. I have killed him.”

A police officer nearest to that address was sent to check the situation and on the Kitchen floor of Mr Atkinson’s home found his body.

Rewcroft was emotional and at the custody desk was recorded on CCTV saying: “I’ve killed somebody. I can’t cope with it. I can’t cope. I done it to protect my family.”

He initially said he did not want a solicitor adding: “I am guilty. I did it” but agreed to have one when he was told Mr Atkinson was dead and he was arrested for murder saying: “I’ve killed their dad, they will hate me forever. What have I done? I was so frightened he was going to come and kill us. I was so frightened he was going to come do us.”

Mr Reeds said at first the police thought Barry Rewcroft had acted alone but when an officer went to his home in Raincliffe Avenue it became clear his son Ruben had been with him at Mr Atkinson’s house and he too was arrested.

CCTV footage from a house in Mount Park Avenue showed father and son arriving a few minutes after 6pm with Ruben carrying something in his hand followed by Barry holding the knife in his right hand.

He told the jury they went off camera into Mr Atkinson’s home and left one minute 20 seconds later during which time Mr Atkinson was stabbed and slashed 56 times. Ruben Rewcroft subsequently dropped his father off by car near the police station.

“The prosecution case is that after he had been drinking alcohol Barry Rewcroft became angry with Shaun Atkinson. He armed himself with a large knife and Ruben Rewcroft armed himself with a bat. Their intention was to go round to the house and confront him.”

Mr Reeds told the jury it was the prosecution case the presence of weapons demonstrated a shared intention to cause really serious harm or to use lethal violence either from the outset or if they met resistance.

“Once there a violent incident started and Barry Rewcroft stabbed Shaun Atkinson a large number of times, leaving him to bleed to death on his kitchen floor. He then went to the police station to confess what he had done.”

Barry Rewcroft did not answer questions when interviewed the following day. Ruben Rewcroft said he had become aware his sister was upset and claiming her partner had made threats to kill her.

He said there had been a previous incident on Christmas Day when Mr Atkinson was asked to leave the Rewcroft family home and so he decided to go and speak to him and tell him that it had to stop.

Rewcroft said in a statement that his father had insisted on going with him. Once in the kitchen Ruben claimed Mr Atkinson flew at him and started throwing punches.

He said his father entered the kitchen and Shaun started fighting with him instead and it was only when he fell to the ground he saw his father had a knife.

He denied going to the house with any intention of causing him harm. “The prosecution say he is not telling the truth in that statement” Mr Reeds told the jury.

When asked about his having a weapon Ruben Rewcroft said in a second statement he had taken a child’s wooden bat “to defend himself should the need arise.” He said he could not stop his father stabbing Shaun and said they had never discussed killing Shaun.

Mr Reeds said the Crown would say he was not telling the truth. Of the 56 separate injuries in that short period, 48 were stab wounds, of which five penetrated Mr Atkinson’s chest the deepest going through the lung into the upper abdomen, suggesting the attack had happened very quickly from entry into the kitchen.

He told the jury he understood Barry Rewcroft would say he used reasonable force to defend his son but Mr Atkinson was unarmed and subjected to a “sustained and deliberate attack” which the prosecution would say pointed away from lawful self-defence.

Although the father had inflicted the wounds which caused death, his son “is guilty of murder as a secondary party.”

Barry Rewcroft, 51, and his son Ruben, 20, both deny the murder on December 27.

Jason Pitter QC defending Ruben Rewcroft told the jury in a short defence opening statement that the case had “a backdrop involving the volatile relationship between the deceased and Ella Rewcroft.”

He accepted he went to confront Mr Atkinson and because of “the history and what he knew about the deceased he felt it necessary to arm himself with a child’s baseball bat to ward off any attack and did not know his father was carrying a knife.”

He will say he was attacked almost immediately and any action he took was to defend himself. His father became involved and in that incident Mr Atkinson was killed.

“Ruben Rewcroft’s position is he played no part in that aspect at all. You will have to decide whether he assisted or encouraged his father’s actions.”

He told the jury they would also have to decide “whether at any stage Ruben Rewcroft had an intention to kill let alone cause serious harm.”

Richard Wright QC defending Barry Rewcroft told the jury: “He will admit he did a terrible thing, he killed a man. That man was the partner of his daughter and the father of his own grandchildren.”

But he said “while he has done a terrible thing doesn’t mean he is guilty of the crime of murder.”

He told the jury they would hear background to the events and have to consider the state of mind of Barry Rewcroft at the time of the killing, the extent to which he and his son were attacked themselves.

“You will have to consider whether Barry really did set out to kill that man or whether in the heat of the moment he lost his head and was not thinking at all about what he was doing.”

“In short he will not deny he killed that man and is saying he alone did it. He bears the moral guilt of doing this although you may decide if he should be convicted of a serious criminal offence it might not be murder but a charge of manslaughter.”

The trial continues.