Man who stabbed his older brother to death in the street is jailed

Man who stabbed his older brother to death in the middle of the street during drug-fuelled knife frenzy after row over money is jailed for life

  • James Rutherford, 35, knifed his brother Gary Wilkie, 45, to death on August 2
  • He killed his sibling in a row over cash, stabbing him in Blyth, Northumberland  

A murderer who told his told his brother ‘I hope you die’ while stabbing him to death during a drug-fuelled killing has been jailed for life. 

James Rutherford knifed his older brother Gary Wilkie eight times during a frenzied attack in the middle of the street on August 2, last year.  

Rutherford had taken a ‘cocktail of drugs’ before the murder and believed his brother had stolen cash from him, which triggered his deadly assault. 

Newcastle Crown Court heard how unarmed Mr Wilkie, 45, screamed at his younger brother ‘don’t stab me there’ as Rutherford held him up and repeatedly plunged the knife into him. 

Chillingly, when Mr Wilkie told Rutherford he was bleeding, the killer replied ‘he knew that and that he hoped that he died’. 

James Rutherford (pictured) knifed his older brother Gary Wilkie eight times during a frenzied attack in the middle of the street on August 2, last year

Rutherford, 35, of no fixed address, was jailed for life for the attack and must serve a minimum of 17-and-a-half years in prison before he has any chance of parole. 

Newcastle Crown Court heard that despite having different fathers, the siblings had grown up together and were close to each other throughout their lives.

In the hours before the killing, Rutherford had taken a ‘cocktail’ of heroin, cocaine, diazepam and cannabis before falling asleep at a friend’s house in Blyth, Northumberland, where Mr Wilkie had been. 

But when Rutherford woke up at in the early hours he noticed his brother had made off with his phone and £160.

Prosecutor David Lamb KC told the court the defendant then went hunted down his sibling, finding him at their grandmother’s.

The court heard the woman was awoken by the sound of the pair speaking downstairs in her kitchen but Mr Wilkie left the address and was followed by Rutherford.

The pair made their way to Duke’s Gardens where Rutherford took a knife from his waistband and launched the attack – which was captured on a Ring Doorbell camera from a neighbouring property.

The footage heard Rutherford had been threatening his victim with a ‘big f****** knife’ and that he was going ‘to do it here’.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the frenzied attack took place in Blyth, Northumberland, during the early hours of August 2, 2022. Pictured are forensic officers at the scene of the killing 

Mr Lamb told the court Mr Wilkie was heard saying he did not have his money but the defendant replied saying he did not believe him.

‘Initially both the defendant and Gary Wilkie were stood upright and the defendant is holding the upper clothing of his brother while simultaneously stabbing with a knife in his right hand,’ Mr Lamb said.

Mr Wilkie then fell to the ground while Rutherford stood over him. He then inflicted a further two stab wounds, the court heard.

The victim was able to ‘partially’ stand a further two times before collapsing again.

Mr Lamb told the court the victim was conscious for 20 minutes after the attack before he passed out, and never woke up.

He added: ‘When Gary Wilkie told the defendant he was bleeding, the defendant told him he knew that and that he hoped that he died.’

The court heard the woman who lived at the house with the doorbell footage ran out to assist Mr Wilkie, and asked her husband to provide some towels before the police arrived.

Another neighbour, who knew the brothers, also contacted the emergency services when she realised what had happened and had earlier heard Rutherford say he was going to stab Mr Wilkie in his kidney.

Mr Lamb said: ‘She already heard Gary Wilkie say to his brother “don’t use that” and “don’t stab me there”.

‘The defendant responded by saying “don’t make me do this”.

Rutherford, who had been intoxicated, watched as his brother bled to death. He has now been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 17-and-a-half years in jail before he can be considered for parole 

‘She described that he (Gary) was wailing and shouting as his brother stood over him.’

Shortly afterwards, the woman heard a bang at her door from Rutherford who asked her to ring an ambulance.

Police arrived at the scene at 3.50am where they discovered Mr Wilkie on the floor conscious but with substantial blood loss.

Rutherford emerged from an alleyway with his ‘head in hands’ and later picked up the knife and threw it on the floor,  before officers then seized the blade.

The court heard the knife was later forensically analysed and was found to have the defendant’s DNA on the handle.

Despite the best efforts of medics and the police, Mr Wilkie was pronounced dead at the scene just after 4.30am.

A post-mortem revealed he had suffered eight stab wounds to the scalp, chest, arms, and left leg.

READ MORE: Brother, 35, faces life in jail after admitting stabbing his 46-year-old sibling to death

Rutherford was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but it was upgraded to murder while he was in the police van, the court heard.

At an earlier court hearing in November, he pleaded guilty to the charge. He also admitted possession of a blade.

Judge Paul Sloan sentenced Rutherford to life behind bars with a minimum term of 17-and-a-half years.

The judge said: ‘The victim of the murder was your own brother, Gary Wilkie, who was 46 years of age when you killed him.

‘You have a long history of drug abuse. On the 1st of August 2022, during the course of that day and night, consumed a cocktail of drugs including heroin, cocaine, diazepam and cannabis.

‘When he denied having the money, you produced a knife. You threatened him saying “I will kill you, watch, watch.

‘Then, while holding Gary Wilkie with one hand you proceeded to stab him with the knife held in the other hand.’

The judge added: ‘Despite making every effort to save Gary Wilkie, it proved impossible to stem the flow of blood.

‘There’s only one sentence for the offence of murder. That is a sentence of imprisonment for life.

‘However, I’m required by law to specify the minimum term of imprisonment you must serve before you can be considered for release.’

Toby Hedworth, defending, told the court that Rutherford will have to live with the ‘enormity’ of his actions for the rest of his life.

He said: ‘He realises and has to live with the knowledge that not only has he taken the life of his brother to whom he was always very close to but also he’s taken the life of his mother’s son.

‘He realises just how bad this for his wider family.’

Mr Hedworth added that his client had achieved a number of certificates while in prison and hopes to put his time to good use while serving his sentence

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