Murder trial: Son tells court of his disbelief when dad brandished knife

Shaun Atkinson ended up dead with 56 stab and slash wounds.
Shaun Atkinson ended up dead with 56 stab and slash wounds.

A man told a murder trial jury he had no idea his father had taken a knife with him when they went round to talk to his sister’s partner, who ended up dead with 56 stab and slash wounds.

Ruben Rewcroft said his sister Ella and her two children had arrived in a distressed state at his family home in Raincliffe Avenue, Scarborough on December 27.

He told Leeds Crown Court she had no shoes on and was crying while the children were screaming “he’s coming to kill us, Daddy is coming to kill us.”

They were taking the threat seriously and he decided to go and speak to her partner Shaun Atkinson. “I intended to tell him to stay away from my family.”

He said his father Barry, was also going to go although Ella told them: “he’ll kill you both, he’s got an axe.”

Rewcroft, 20, told the jury: “I was petrified" because he was aware Mr Atkinson was “a violent person.”

He said he took with him a child’s small Disney baseball bat which his mother had given him as he left the house “just to protect myself.”

He told his counsel Jason Pitter QC: “I had no intention of using it. My mum just gave me it knowing he had an axe.”

Rewcroft said at that stage he did not know his father had taken a knife with him when they drove to Mr Atkinson’s home in St John’s Avenue.

They did not discuss on the journey what would happen when they got there and he got out first and went through the back door into the kitchen. “I was just going round to tell him to stay away from my sister, to stay away from my mum, to stay away from us.”

“I saw Shaun, he was leaning against the work top right in front of me. I said ‘Come on Shaun, what’s going on’ and he leapt at me straight away.”

“We were fighting, like hugging, not like a proper fight, throwing each other about sort of. I remember there were punches being thrown but there were no serious punches.”

He said he could not remember if he connected with any and did not feel pain if Shaun had caught him with any, and their grappling together stopped when his father entered the kitchen.

“My dad came in and Shaun said: ‘Do you want some as well’ and went for my dad.”

He told the jury that was when he saw the knife and just froze for a couple of seconds. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

“I just saw my dad stabbing him and then like as soon as I’ve come back to reality, as soon as I stopped being frozen I grabbed hold of my dad and tried to get him off him.”

He sobbed and put his head in his hands in the witness box, after he told the jury he could not manage to stop him. “It felt like for ages, I don’t know. I was trying to pull him off.”

He said: “Shaun went to the floor, that’s when I finally got him off, it felt so long.”

They left the house and he said he did not know what to do. His father told him to drive him to the police station.

“Did you know your dad was going to stab him,” asked Mr Pitter. “No,” replied the defendant who said he had not gone round to harm Mr Atkinson.

He said when he got home alone after his father went to the police: “It felt like I was empty. I don’t know I was lost.”

When he got arrested he had not mentioned in his first statement taking a bat with him to the house. “I panicked, I was scared, It was surreal.”

Asked how he felt about what had happened he said: “I don’t know. I feel, I suppose, I feel destroyed.”

Ruben Rewcroft, an apprentice bricklayer and his father Barry Rewcroft, 51, a postman, both deny the murder of Mr Atkinson on December 27.

Earlier in his evidence Ruben Rewcroft said there had been previous incidents involving Mr Atkinson which had led to him being barred from the Rewcroft home for a time.

He was aware of his sister being upset and on one occasion she had a black eye but he did not want to confront him. Ruben said he was eight years younger than his sister: “I just tried to ignore it all.”

On Christmas Day Shaun had been at the Rewcroft home, he was drinking and being demanding. Ruben said he went out for a drive with a friend for an hour and when he got back Shaun had gone and his mother told him that Shaun had “squared up to my dad.”

The trial continues.