Murder trial: Accused sobbed as he told police he had killed a man

Shaun Atkinson
Shaun Atkinson

A jury watched a man sob on camera as he told police officers he had killed his daughter’s partner.

Barry Rewcroft and his son Ruben are on trial at Leeds Crown Court and deny the murder of Shaun Atkinson.

Opening the case on Monday, Graham Reeds QC prosecuting said Barry Rewcroft walked into Scarborough police station on the evening of December 27 with blood on his hands and after putting a knife on the reception counter said he thought he had killed someone.

He named Mr Atkinson whose body was then found at home in St John’s Avenue, Scarborough, with 56 slash and stab wounds.

Before the death was confirmed Rewcroft senior was arrested initially for wounding and was recorded on a video played to the jury on Tuesday, telling the officer at the custody desk “I can’t cope with it.”

He was emotional and sobbing saying “It just sort of happened.”

“I can’t cope with it, I can’t cope I done it to protect my family.”

He said he was covered in blood and added “Oh my god I’ve killed somebody, I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

When Mr Atkinson’s death was confirmed and he was then arrested on suspicion of murder he said his grandchildren would hate him adding “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.”

He told the officer: “I’m not like him, what have I done.”

Mr Reeds told the jury at first the police thought Barry Rewcroft had acted alone but 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 at Mr Atkinson’s home a few minutes after 6pm.

“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.”

“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.”

Ruben Rewcroft said he had become aware his sister Ella was upset 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.

Once in the kitchen of Mr Atkinson’s home he claimed his sister’s partner flew at him and started throwing punches.

He said his father entered the kitchen and Shaun then 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.”

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,” Mr Reeds told the jury.

Barry Rewcroft, 51, of Raincliffe Avenue, 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 said Ruben 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 would say he was attacked almost immediately and any action he took was to defend himself. His father then became involved and 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.”

A neighbour of Mr Atkinson described him in a statement read in court as “happy, friendly and easy to get on with.”

He said he would hear him and Ella arguing and shouting at each other but then would get on fine again.

The jury were not in court for the trial on Wednesday and evidence will continue tomorrow.