A serial burglar who murdered two pensioners in separate “vicious” attacks has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years.
Amos Wilsher was found guilty last month of killing 88-year-old Josephine Kaye, after a trial which also saw him and his younger brother Jason Wilsher convicted of the murder of retired businessman Arthur Gumbley.
The four-week-trial was told 29-year-old Amos Wilsher acted alone when he posed as a gas firm worker to remove a padlock from a gate before killing Mrs Kaye and stealing her safe containing £20,000.
The Irish-born widow died in hospital in March 2020, three weeks after suffering a broken leg when she was repeatedly thrown to the floor at her home in Harington Drive, Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent.
Both brothers were found guilty by the jury of being among a three-strong gang which caused fatal injuries to 87-year-old widower Mr Gumbley in a raid on his bungalow in Little Aston, Staffordshire, in November 2017.
Passing sentence at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, Mr Justice Henshaw passed two life terms on Amos Wilsher and jailed his younger brother for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years.
The judge told Amos Wilsher, who was on court bail and on the run from police when he killed Mrs Kaye: “This case concerns a planned series of robberies targeting elderly and vulnerable people which tragically resulted in the deaths of two of them and the wounding of another.
“You pose a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm.”
But the judge added: “Your murders are mitigated by your lack of intention to kill… which has played a part in my decision not to make a whole life order.”
Addressing 23-year-old Jason Wilsher, the judge said the murder of Mr Gumbley had been committed “for gain” during the course of a “planned and pre-meditated” robbery but his offending was also mitigated by the lack of intention to kill .
Amos Wilsher is already serving a 12-year sentence imposed in July 2020 at Basildon Crown Court for a 2018 attack on a pensioner who was beaten around the head in Brentwood, Essex.
He was arrested at a hotel and spa in Lincoln two weeks after Mrs Kaye’s murder, while his brother was originally found guilty of Mr Gumbley’s murder in 2019 but was granted a re-trial despite DNA evidence linking him to the scene.
The jury further convicted the brothers, described in court as being members of a large family from the Traveler community with links to Derbyshire and Leicestershire, of conspiracy to rob.
Both men, formerly of Tibshelf, near Alfreton, were also found guilty of wounding with intent relating to pensioner Dennis Taylor, who was attacked in 2017 at his home in Creswell, near Bolsover, Derbyshire.
Following the raid which led to the death of Mr Gumbley, pictures of the retired business owner’s badly bruised face and body were released, with the agreement of his family, as part of media appeals.
The trial heard Amos Wilsher was linked to Mrs Kaye’s murder by DNA evidence found on a screwdriver, a hat, a security light and a soap tin, as well as a fingerprint on the side of a car.
In his opening speech, prosecution QC Simon Denison said three robbers had traveled south from the Tibshelf area of Derbyshire looking for “easy targets” near to where Mr Gumbley lived.
After smashing the window in the kitchen door at the back of the house to gain entry to the property, the raiders punched Mr Gumbley in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Mr Denison said: “They kicked him in the shoulder and back, they dragged him through his house, they ripped his watch from his wrist, tearing the fragile skin from the back of his hand.
“They ransacked his house, and they took money, items of jewelery that had belonged to his late wife, and a number of antique items that he had accumulated over the course of his long life.”
The violence inflicted on Mr Gumbley caused injury to his brain and four displaced rib fractures, as well as widespread bruising.
The pensioner was taken to hospital where he was treated for his injuries, but their effect “was too much for his body to withstand” and he died on December 12, 2017.
Mr Taylor suffered a broken nose and finger fractures four days later when he was attacked by three masked robbers who drove a Mazda RX8 to his isolated farmhouse.
The 82-year-old was knocked to the ground, jabbed in the face with a knife and struck with a baseball bat and walking stick by the gang, who escaped with cash, watches and jewelery.
Mr Denison said Mrs Kaye, who was only 4ft 8in and lived alone, was attacked on the evening of February 27 2020.
Jurors were told Mrs Kaye was born and raised in Dublin, where she married and had her first daughter, before moving to Stoke-on-Trent in 1955 when her husband was offered a job there.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.