Derbyshire murderer faces justice after cold-hearted killing of two pensioners

A Derbyshire burglar who murdered the owners of two homes he was ransacking has been jailed for life. Amos Wilsher inflicted fatal injuries on 88-year-old Josephine Kaye during a raid on her home in February 2020, after being part of a three-man gang who, alongside brother Jason Wilsher, murdered 87-year-old Arthur Gumbley during another botched burglary in November 2017.

Following a four-week trial at Coventry Crown Court, Amos Wilsher, 29, was sentenced to a minimum term of 38 years after being found guilty of two counts of murder. Jason Wilsher, 23, was also sentenced to life with a minimum term of 25 years after being found guilty of murdering Mr Gumbley.

Both men were of Vicar Lane, Tibshelf, near Alfreton. The pair were also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to a third pensioner, Dennis Taylor, in a November 2017 attack at his home in Creswell, near Bolsover.

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Sentencing Amos Wilsher on Friday, March 25, Mr Justice Henshaw said: “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 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. Both men were also found guilty of conspiracy to rob.

The court heard from prosecutor Simon Denison QC that the Wilsher brothers and a third man had travelled from Tibshelf looking for “easy targets” near Mr Gumbley’s home in Little Aston, in Staffordshire, on November 21, 2017. After smashing Mr Gumbley’s kitchen window, they punched the widower in the face and knocked him to the ground.

During the course of the burglary, the gang inflicted brain injuries and fractured four of Mr Gumbley’s ribs. He was treated in hospital but died from his injuries on December 12, 2017.

Pictured is Jason Wilsher.
Jason Wilsher

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 jewellery that had belonged to his late wife, and a number of antique items that he had accumulated over the course of his long life.”

Three masked robbers, including Amos and Jason Wilsher, then wounded 82-year-old Mr Taylor on November 25, 2017, when they drove to his isolated Derbyshire farmhouse in a car which was later found burned. The gang jabbed the pensioner in the face with a knife, hit him with a baseball bat and a walking stick and fled with cash, watches and jewellery, leaving their victim with a broken nose and fractured fingers.

In February 2020, Amos Wilsher then posed as a gas firm worker to remove a padlock from the gate of Mrs Kaye’s house in Harington Drive, Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent, before he alone attacked her at her home on February 27, 2020. Mrs Kaye, who lived by herself and was only 4ft 8in tall, suffered a broken leg and was repeatedly thrown to the floor during the attack, which saw Amos Wilsher steal her safe containing £20,000 after forcing his way into her home, claiming to be a policeman.

The Irish widow was also treated in hospital but died of her injuries in March 2020. Amos Wilsher was arrested two weeks later at a spa in Lincoln, with DNA evidence found on a screwdriver, hat, security light and soap tin at the scene.

Jason Wilsher had been found guilty of the murder of Mr Gumbley in 2019, but was granted a retrial despite DNA evidence tying him to the crime scene. At the time of Friday’s verdict, Amos Wilsher was serving a 12-year sentence handed down in 2020 following an attack on a pensioner in Brentwood, Essex, which saw the victim beaten.

In a statement released by Staffordshire Police, Mrs Kaye’s daughter, Barbara, said following the conviction: “There has never been any doubt in my mind about the outcome and verdict reached by the jury. The jury have found this evil criminal guilty of the murder of my mum, Josephine Kaye.

“Whilst we accept this verdict, nothing can bring my dearest mum back to me or my family. My mum was simply a wonderful person, who was kind, generous and compassionate to everyone.

“Her youthful, positive, outgoing approach to life was a true inspiration, not only to me but to all our family. My mum was not only a wonderful mother to my sister and I, but she was also a wonderful nanna and great-nanna.

“My mum was more than just a mum or nanna, she was a best friend and the person we could all rely on for help, advice and unconditional love, along with her cheeky, infectious sense of humour.

“My mum was the boss of the family, and she held us all together. She has been taken from us far too early, and in such a senseless, cruel and evil way, perpetrated by pure evil.

“My mum was simply minding her own business in her own home. We have been left shattered by these events and will never comprehend why this tragic event took place.

“Justice has been delivered, but why should older vulnerable people have to live in fear of being subjected to being terrorised in their own homes by absolute cowards? This should not happen but is all too familiar in today’s society.

“We would like to say thank you to Mr Simon Denison QC and Mr Bob Price for their absolute professionalism and thorough work throughout this trial, and we thank Staffordshire Police for the months of tireless evidence gathering and thorough investigation to ensure justice for Mum. We would also like to thank Dennis Taylor for giving his evidence in such a brave and selfless way.

“We would like to send our sincere, heartfelt condolences to all of Mr Bob Gumbley’s family who are also going through the pain of losing their much-loved father. Finally, my mum was a truly wonderful woman who was loved, admired and respected by so many people and her memory will never fade, her spirit has been with me throughout.

“We need time now to reflect and try to rebuild our lives. Whilst we do this, we hope you can respect our privacy at this time.”